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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Imo State, on Saturday shocked politicians with the unannounced withdrawal of recruited Collation and Returning Officers at the tail end of the election.

The Collation Officers who had converged at the INEC Headquarters in Owerri, waiting for deployment to the respective Local Government Areas, were not aware that they have been sacked until they were ordered out of the premises by security agents.

It will be recalled that the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Francis Ezeonu, had accused the Adhoc Staff that worked during the Presidential and National Assembly elections of colluding with politicians to compromise the election.

The REC disclosed during a media parley with journalists to review the Presidential and National Assembly elections that, “most of the Adhoc Staff compromised the election, most of them sold their appointment letters to politicians and switched off their phones. So we had disturbing situations where political thugs posed as Collation Officers and manipulated the results.

“It is worrisome that one could sabotage such sensitive national assignment without considering the outcome but we have taken measures to ensure that it will repeat itself”.

So the sudden sack of the Collation and Returning Officers who were recruited from the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) may not be unconnected to the measures taken to flush out the corrupt Adhoc Staff and ensure that the governorship and House of Assembly were not manipulated.

The development however resulted in the late collation of results across the State as the new Collation Officers were not deployed to the respective Council Areas until 3am Sunday morning.

The late arrival of the Collation Officers according to a reliable source within the Commission was a deliberate ploy to shield them from politicians who may be waiting hijack them.

Meanwhile the drama started after the news filtered in that the Adhoc Staff from FUTO had been dropped and replaced with Staff from Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike.

Shortly after the news was broken, politicians activated their plans. A particular governorship candidate using his contact, reached out to some of the new Adhoc Staff and thereafter there was heightened scramble by politicians to hijack the Collation Officers.

While they were still waiting to be posted, another set of Adhos Staff from Nnmadi Azikiwe University Awka were driven into INEC Office under tight security.

Immediately after that, those Staff earlier brought in from Abia State were ordered out of the premises by security agents at the order of the REC.

The new set of Collation Officers were kept incommunicado and their phones temporarily seized to prevent any form of contact with politicians.

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