Cross River Re-Run: One Still Missing as Gunmen Release INEC Officials Held Hostage

Report from Cross River is that 30 officials of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were yesterday, held hostage by gunmen in Abi Local Council of Cross River State.

They were deployed for the re-run election in Ekureku 1 and 2, for Abi\Yakurr Federal Constituency, which witnessed massive turnout. After due intervention by security and INEC top officials, however, they were released.

The Cross River State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Johnson Alalibo, accompanied by INEC National Commissioner, Muhammed Lekki, while monitoring the exercise in Ekureku 1 and 2, among others, revealed this to newsmen. He said INEC officials were held hostage at Itighidi, while going to Ekureku and other areas where election held. They were later freed, though one INEC staff was still missing.

Gunmen were alleged to have also kidnapped an INEC official, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member and a police man. They also carted away election materials in Afafayin, Igonogoni Ward of Abi Local Council of the state, although officials and a policeman were later released.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Nkereuwem Akpan also monitored the situation. Meanwhile, voting went on smoothly, even though there was tension on both camps of the Peoples Democratic (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates.

Earlier, INEC officials had difficulty containing the massive crowd, especially at Gbagaro Agbara and Egbonyi polling units within Ekureku II Ward in Abi.

Presiding officer for Gbagaro Agbara Polling Unit, Mr. Isaac Oke, said: ” Election materials arrived at 8:00a.m., and we commenced accreditation immediately. Voters were already on ground. There is large turnout of voters, as you can see. The card reader is very slow. We will ensure everybody votes.”

The Federal Commissioner, who supervised the re-run, said: ” Reports from the field showed everything was moving on smoothly. We have not received any complaints of any irregularity. We are very satisfied. Nobody would be allowed to vote without the card reader…”

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