Thousands of people in Orlu and Orsu local government areas of Imo State are allegedly being denied the opportunity to participate in the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, organized nationwide by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a result of the precarious security situation.
The Trumpet gathered that prospective voters who are eager to register and collect their Permanent Voter’s Card, PVC ahead of the 2023 general elections cannot register for now due to absence of registration centres.
It was gathered that the registration centres of the two council areas were removed and relocated to the INEC headquarters in Owerri, the Imo State Capital, when security there became seriously compromised. Indigenes and residents of the areas are lamenting over the ugly scenario.
According to them, the situation is capable of denying them the right and power to vote in the 2023 polls, especially if registration centres are not immediately provided in the two LGAs. A community leader, Chief Emmanuel Okenwa, described the situation as a deliberate plot to disenfranchise many prospective voters in the areas.
He noted that young ones who just clocked 18 years, registered voters who lost their cards, or those who relocated from other areas to Orsu and Orlu wanting to transfer their voting location have been stranded since the CVR commenced. He noted that all efforts to persuade INEC to come for registration in Orlu and Orsu to help the teeming population waiting to register have been turned down because of the volatile security situation in the areas.
Okenwa pointed out that attacks on government properties like INEC offices, police stations, local government headquarters, other public institutions and wanton killings in the two areas had made access to INEC registration impossible.
According to him, some people of the areas can afford go to INEC Owerri to register, transfer or collect their PVCs while the rest who cannot afford the transport fare stay back waiting endlessly for the commission to bring centres to them.
Another community leader, Chief Eugene Ubah, corroborated the position of Chief Okenwa and several others who preferred anonymity and pleaded for urgent steps to remedy the situation.
He contended that thousands of eligible youths who just turned 18 years, returnees and holders of defaced PVCs would be denied the opportunity to vote in next year’s elections if nothing is done immediately about the absence of registration centres in Orlu and Orsu.
Contacted, the spokesperson of INEC in Imo, Mrs. Emmanuela N. Opara, explained that Orlu has a registration centre at its council headquarters . Orsu’s centre is at the commission’s headquarters, Owerri.
She stated that the Orsu centre was vandalized by hoodlums who carted away all tables, chairs, windows, doors, registration machines, documents among others just as the lives of the INEC officials in the area were under severe threat.