By THOMAS AKASE, Makurdi –
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the postponement of the Governorship and State Assembly elections in Kwande East and West constituencies in Kwande Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Prof. Sam Egwu, announced the postponement in a statement issued on Sunday in Makurdi.
Prof. Egwu said: “On behalf of INEC, I announce the postponement of the Governorship and State Assembly elections in Kwande East and West constituencies in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State.
“The commission deployed all non-sensitive and sensitive materials to the 23 LGAs of Benue, including Kwande Local Government, preparatory for the Governorship and State Assembly elections, rescheduled for March 18.
“All the materials were successfully deployed to the Registration Area Centers (RAC) on Friday and the RACs were subsequently activated.
“However, in the course of distribution of materials and deployment to the polling units this morning, printing errors showing that ballot papers meant for Kwande East was labeled Kwande west, while those for Kwande West was labeled Kwande East was discovered.
‘The error also reflected in the result sheets for the two constituencies,” Egwu said.
He, however, said that the error had nothing to do with the ballot papers meant for the governorship election, which meant governorship election could have proceeded in the local government.
“Following the discovery of the printing errors, stakeholders in the local government across the political spectrum who met in the palace of Ter Kwande took a decision not to allow polls to continue where it had commenced.
“They also discontinued the deployment of materials to the other polling units.”
The REC said that the stakeholders also rejected appeal to allow the governorship election to proceed while the commission arranged for the reprinting of the ballot papers for the two state constituencies to address the error on the ground.
According to him, they said they preferred to hold the two elections on the same day.
Egwu said that the commission would reprint the ballot papers for the two elections and schedule a new date for the elections.
“The decision to reprint the ballot papers for the governorship election is in recognition of the fact that ballot papers had been exposed to the public, as voting had commenced in some polling units.
“Consequently, the people of Kwande Local Government, and, indeed, the entire Benue State will have to wait patiently for the commission to do the needful and fix a new date for the governorship and State Assembly elections in Kwande Local Government,” he said.