Voting at Ibeku East Ward 1, Unit 020 in Umuahia North LGA, Abia State, has stopped because of a shortage of ballot papers.
The community’s Chairman, Hon Silas Ihemeremadu, and a youth leader, Mr Hilary Ochiabuto, who addressed journalists, said they agreed to boycott elections in their area unless the 60 remaining ballot papers are completed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The polling unit is at the community’s square, Ama Mbara Nkata Ibeku.
According to the community leaders, the polling unit was allocated only 170 ballot papers each for the guber and House of Assembly elections instead of 200.
Ihemeremadu complained that the shortage of ballot papers could set his community, hence their decision to boycott voting until the ballot papers were complete.
“There are 176 registered voters in this unit, and we are supposed to have received 200 papers for Governorship and 200 for House of Assembly. The papers are shorting 30 in the Governorship and 30 in the House of Assembly”, said Hon Ihemeremadu.
He pleaded with his kinsmen against attacking INEC staff but to maintain their ground that no vote should take place in the unit until the papers are completed.
Some villagers who spoke to journalists alleged that the missing papers might be used for rigging by some political parties.
The INEC SPO in charge of Unit 020 Ibeku East Ward (1), Simon Favour, confirmed that his team came with 170 ballot papers for guber and 170 for House of Assembly elections.
He said the reduction in the number of ballot papers was a careful system deployed by INEC to avoid wasting materials.
“There are 176 registered voters here, and you know some people may not even come out to vote, so that is the reason we came with 170 ballot papers each for Governorship and House of Assembly to avoid wasting materials”, said Favour.
He pleaded with the voters to change their minds and cast their votes.
At the time of leaving the venue, the villagers insisted that no election would take place in their area.