Soldiers intercept 3,600 INEC Ballot Boxes in Ogun

The Nigerian Army yesterday, intercepted a truck loaded with about 3,600 ballot boxes belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) along the Ijebu Ode-Sagamu-Benin Expressway in Ogun State.

Soldiers from 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta, serving with the anti-crime outfit, “OP MESA”, who were on stop- and- search exercise around the Sagamu axis, were said to have confiscated the truck and arrested the driver.

A source at Ijebu Ode, where the truck and the ballot boxes were handed over to the police, confirmed the seizure and added that the vehicle was a 40-feet container.

Also confirming the development, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, said in Abeokuta that some INEC officials and Sea Port personnel in Lagos had called to claim that the boxes belonged to the electoral body.

Adejobi, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, explained that the officials stated that the boxes were being transported for delivery to the INEC office in Akwa Ibom State.

“This morning, at about 8 a.m, a team of soldiers attached to the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta, who were on stop-and-search, “OP MESA” around the Odogbolu area of the Sagamu – Ijebu Ode-Benin Expressway intercepted a vehicle conveying about 3, 600 ballot boxes.

“Upon interception, when they could not ascertain the authenticity of the ballot boxes, they handed them over to the police at Ijebu Ode area command.

“Police thereafter, commenced investigations into the matter. As I speak with you, we have the 3,600 ballot boxes belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Information we have about the consignment as I am talking with you now, is that some INEC officials have called and some officials from Wharf to confirm that the consignment belongs to INEC and that the ballot boxes are meant to be delivered at INEC office in Akwa Ibom State,” he said.

The PPRO said the police would continue investigations with a view to getting to the root of the matter and establishing the origin and destination of the consignment.

He further stated that INEC officials had assured the police that the contractor responsible for the consignment would come forward with relevant documents to prove that the boxes truly belonged to the electoral commission.

“We want to think, without mincing words for now, that we cannot call the ballot boxes fake or illegal ones.

The INEC official that spoke with the police said the contractor who is to deliver the item would come to the police to deliver the relevant documents to clarify this.

“So, the items are still with us at this command; we are waiting for the necessary documents to ascertain the claims of INEC or the so-called agent,” he stated.

Adejobi however warned that the development should not be misconstrued as the recovery of illegal INEC materials, stressing it would be too early to jump to conclusions without facts.

“Don’t let us say that we have recovered illegal ballot boxes. It is too early for us to jump into any conclusion now, the information we have with us for now is that they are INEC property, but we are still waiting for necessary documents to clarify this.”

The police spokesman however assured that the Force would take the necessary action if those connected with the consignment failed to prove its ownership after they might have presented their documents.

“However, if they cannot produce the document to convince the police that these are genuine INEC items and ballot boxes, we are going to do what we should do.

“So, by tomorrow, we are still going to do the necessary follow up on the matter where the command will make an official statement on it,” Adejobi said.

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