A few days to the February 25 presidential election, the Benue State Government has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of intending to disenfranchise the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state.
The Executive Secretary, Benue State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr Emmanuel Shior, stated this while briefing newsmen in Makurdi during the monthly distribution of relief materials to the IDPs in the state.
The Benue State Government had stated that over 2 million IDPs are living in the state.
Shior regretted that most of the IDPs who registered, could not collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), alleging a deliberate plot by INEC to disenfranchise the displaced persons.
Shior, who noted that IDPs in the state would be voting in the elections, said he had gone out to interface with the IDPs to ascertain their readiness but discovered that almost all of them registered but not all of them collected their PVCs.
“It is not the fault of the Benue State Government, it is the fault of INEC. In fact, I’m accusing INEC of trying to disenfranchise our IDPs. I’m not happy myself. But those who have their PVCs will vote,” he stated.
He said the state government would ensure that those in safe communities exercise their franchise.
In a swift reaction, the INEC Public Affairs Officer, Terkaa Andyar, dismissed the allegation as false.
Andyer, who stated that everyone is entitled to their opinions explained: “We have records of IDPs. The phenomenon of IDPs is not restricted to Benue alone. There is a national policy of IDP voting and this will be adopted in Benue. Benue INEC will not do anything different or outside the policy.
“By the fact that someone is displaced from his original abode makes him vulnerable. The commission went around to capture all IDPs who had voters card. The commission profiled them in such a way that it was possible so that the cards can be printed for them.
“Unfortunately, most of them are rural dwellers. The information we harvested was not good enough to print cards for them. The fault was not from the Commission but from them (IDPs) as they could not give sufficient information to enable us to print cards for them.”
He emphasized that the Commission did not make any deliberate plan to disenfranchise the IDPs in the state asking “What will it benefit the Commission after spending money and time to disenfranchise the IDPs?