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Police arrest lorry with ballot boxes in Ibadan

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The Oyo State police command on Wednesday arrested a lorry conveying ballot boxes said to belong to the Independent National Electoral Commission around 2am in the Yemetu area of Ibadan.

The ballot boxes were stored in a 40-feet container.

Sources said that the trailer was arrested on the suspicion that it was carrying contraband items but was later discovered that its contents were ballot boxes meant for the next month election in Osun State.

It was learnt that the trailer and the consignment were later released after police investigation revealed that the boxes were being transported to Osun State by INEC.

However, the arrest created anxiety in political circles as politicians made effort to know if the boxes were empty or stuffed with ballot papers.

At a point, rumour spread in the city that a certain political party had connived with INEC to bring in thumb-printed ballot papers into Oyo State.

A source said, “A trailer carrying a 40-feet container with registration number FKJ 285 XN was actually impounded by the police but after a thorough check, it was cleared and released.”

The spokesman for the Oyo State Police Command, Mr. Kayode Ajisebutu, could not confirm the incident. He said he was outside the state and could not get through to the Commissioner of Police.

Meanwhile, the immediate past Cross River State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Mike Igini, has said INEC will no longer be the tool for manipulation by some politicians but a national institution committed to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections.

Igini, who said this on Wednesday at the unveiling of INEC Conference Hall in Calabar, also decried the lack of internal democracy in political parties.

Igini said, “This year’s election will be a watershed, a paradigm shift that would bring about the hope of integrity and reliability unequalled in our electoral history. At all times we strive to do what is right. The commission will no longer be the tool for manipulation by some politicians.

“Our commitment to do the right thing was initially misunderstood especially our emphasis on internal party democracy which is still a problem today, where parties do not even have a minimum requirement of credible register of delegates before conducting elections.

“It is inconsiderable that INEC would conduct elections that would be acceptable by the Nigerian people without having a register of voters published. The foundation of any good elections must start with the existence of a credible and reliable register of voters,” he said.

He thanked the INEC membrs of staff for their commitment.

The REC said the Conference Hall christened “Democracy Hall” would serve for conducting INEC activities, especially collation of results, after 25 years of hiring venues.

The INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who was represented by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof. James Epoke, said Igini had made a change for the better in INEC both infrastructural and in entrenching the right mindset.

He said such should be the character of political leaders, who should always leave where they were better than they met it.

Jega, who inaugurated the hall, hoped the new REC would do the right thing.

The state chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee, Mr. Goddie Akpama, said under Igini’s watch the state was a hallmark of free, fair and credible elections.

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