By Chinonso Alozie
An Igbo group, Odinala Cultural Heritage Foundation, OCHIE, today protested against the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the country.
The national president of the group, Chukwuma Orji spoke to newsmen in Owerri, accusing INEC of a plot to deny over 20 million Igbo voters in the Southeast region from collecting their Permanent Voters Card, PVCs.
Among other things, OCHIE Igbo also said they perceived manipulation in the said number of registered voters being allocated to the Southeast.
They also raised an alarm that despite all entreaties to INEC to explain the complexities, they had been rebuffed by the officials of the commission.
According to Orji, “On the 19th of March, 2018, we wrote a letter to the chairman of INEC with the caption; ‘Allocation of 8,239, 093 (Eight Million Two Hundred Thirty Nine Thousand and Ninety – Three) as number of registered voters in the South East
“In that letter, we demanded for clarification from the commission about some numbers being associated with South East in the media as number of registered voters but was worried that as at today, the commission has succeeded in endorsing the wild assumption by agents of the establishment that the South East is land-locked and lacks votes to make a political statement.
“They did not stop there; they have invented and invested in technical disenfranchisement of eligible voters in Southeast.
“What is at risk is about 20 million votes belonging to South East. The commission through some amorphous institutional technicalities has deliberately buried 20 million votes belonging to Ndigbo.”
OCHIE mentioned the category of people to be affected included people of the South East that applied for transfer of PVCs.
“Most of them reside outside Igboland but wish to transfer to their ancestral polling units to cast votes and fraternise with their kindred.”
“People from Southeast that lost their PVCs or whose PVCs were defaced, but applied for Replacement of same.People that applied for Correction of the names on their PVCs.
“Nothing confirms our suspicion of the Commission other than the way and manner they have avoided a meeting with OCHIE Igbo.
“The last straw that broke the camel’s back was reaching INEC Director in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Barr. Uzzi Uweye on phone. Uzzi’s arrogance and posturing are legendary. He talked down and us and warned us never to call his line. We live in a country where public servants are lords.”
They alleged that, “The Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu is a cesspool of corruption. Despite all the billions approved for INEC, the Commission is yet to print PVC belonging to registered voters.
“It is quite ironical that the Commission practically relocated its registration and PVC collection activities to the Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camp, but couldn’t replicate such gesture in the Southeast.
“The Commission should have set up pragmatic plans on how to harness registrants of Igbo extraction during Christmas since 2017. Because Ndigbo see the yuletide as a for reunion. An unbiased Commission would have set up these plans since December, 2017.
“They never did. By December 2018, they hurriedly set up very skeletal platform in Southeast to fulfill all righteousness. Immediately the registration exercise began, the Commission sent highly malfunctioning registration machines to Southeast. But, for the intervention of some vibrant Igbo organs the trick would have seen the light of day.
“We, therefore call on all Igbo sons and daughters of Igbo to align themselves with the decision of our Fathers’ at Ohanaeze, under the leadership of Dr. Nnia Nwodo.
“We call on well meaning Igbos to mobilize their various communities for a protest vote, for a candidate whose manifesto tallies with that which we seek. All roads leads to Atiku/Obi ticket.”