The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Enugu State, Dr. Emeka Ononamadu, has advised detractors who he said were scheming and employing all means to malign the reputation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Enugu State, to look elsewhere to foment trouble as their machinations would fail.
The REC, stated this at the commission’s secretariat in Enugu while fielding questions from journalists over the recent protest by a group of purported INEC ad-hoc staff, who claimed to have worked for the commission during the recently-concluded general elections, but were yet to receive their entitlements.
The protesters had, purportedly, besieged the commission’s secretariat in Enugu, and in a bid to press home their demands, allegedly, padlocked all entrances to the commission’s secretariat, thereby holding the REC and everyone within the premises, including visitors, hostage for hours.
It was gathered that help only came when the Enugu Police Command got a wind of the development and sent a detachment of its personnel to disperse the angry protesters and destroy the padlocks.
But giving his side of the story, Dr Ononamadu alleged that the demonstrators were rented by detractors and disgruntled elements. According to him, the, unnamed individuals were bent on discrediting the commission’s sterling performance specially the conduct of the just-concluded general elections in the state, which he added, had been acclaimed by various stakeholders, including local and foreign observers as well as various security agencies in the state.
He pointed out that claim by the protesters that INEC was owing them allowances was false. He stressed that but for Enugu East, Enugu North and Nsukka Local government areas, the commission had fully payed all allowances due to over 4,800 ad-hoc personnel that it had engaged for the 2019 general election, except those whose names had been dropped by the CBN over wrong Bank verification numbers (BVN) and other related discrepancies, pointing out that they had been in constant touch with the concerned individuals.
He described the protesters as fake ad-hoc personnel, who were unknown to the commission. The REC also disclosed that the Police had waded in by asking the protesters to compile their names and submit the list before April 10 for proper authentication of their claims, but that till the time of the media parley, no list had been forwarded to either the police or INEC.
Ononamadu however, warned that no amount of intimidation or blackmail would make the commission to pay allowances to impostors who never worked for the commission, and advised the general public to desist from being used to perpetrate unwholesome acts because such misdemeanor usually attracted dire consequences.
“We strongly suspect that the protesters were hired by those who want to rubbish our excellent record and put us into trouble by mounting pressure on us to pay the wrong persons as our ad-hoc staff.
“We pay our ad-hoc staff after thorough verification; and it is a norm in INEC that payment of this nature is done through Central Bank Electronic platform, a measure approved by INEC to forestall non-payment of those who had genuinely worked.
“Our enquiry on the details of the protesters showed they were not posted to anywhere by INEC as they claimed; they did not work for INEC and there is no documentation in our posting list to support their claims. Most of them are not even youth corps members, students of federal tertiary institutions or staff of federal ministries, agencies and departments, and so, they could not have been posted to anywhere by INEC as they claimed.
“The truth of the matter is that as at the time of the protest, INEC had almost completed the payment of ad-hoc staff. What was left were those whose bank accounts were not correct or those whose names did not match the bank accounts they had submitted to INEC, and we had been in constant touch with them, guiding them on how to sort out their challenges,” he said.