SIX days to the conduct of governorship election in Edo State, a middle-aged man was, on Saturday morning, arrested with about 25 Permanent Voter Card (PVCs) in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of the state.
The man, Azic Ebeli, was said to have lured those just collecting their PVCs in Ugo village in the ongoing collection of PVCs that started in the state on Saturday into releasing their PVCs they just collected by telling them that a N200,000 empowerment loan awaited them if they did.
A resident of the area, who was involved in the arrest of the suspect, said, “This morning, we got information that one man was collecting PVCs from some people. We then decided to look for the man.”
“We were able to locate him as he was tracked to his house and 25 PVCs were found with him. The man said he was asked to do so by some of his leaders in Ugo. He said he was told that anyone who surrendered his card would be given a loan worth N200,000.
“That motivated the people to give out their cards. We then took him to the police station at Ugo. They had earlier warned him to stop what he was doing, but he did not listen.”
Edo State Police Commissioner, Mr Chris Ezike, confirmed the arrest to Sunday Tribune, pointing out that the suspect would be taken to custody and the case transferred to the headquarters of the state police command in Benin.
He, however, said “the information I received was that he was caught with 10 PVCs. I have instructed that the matter be transferred to the state headquarters. We have advised all to play by the rules.”
When contacted, the spokesperson for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state, Priscillia Sule, who neither confirmed nor denied the incident, promised to contact the officials in charge of the area for details.
Meanwhile, PVC distribution in the state for newly registered voters started on a shaky note as many, who turned out to collect their cards, went home disappointed.
INEC had fixed the distribution of PVCs for the newly registered voters and those who were yet to collect their PVCs for Saturday, September 3, and Monday, September 5.
Checks by Sunday Tribune in some distribution centres within the Benin metropolis showed that all did not go well with the exercise on the first day, with many attributing the current challenge to understaffing of INEC.
At the centres in Oredo Local Government Area that were visited by Sunday Tribune, it was observed that the three INEC staff were attending to the crowd that thronged the centres, making many to wait endlessly for their turns.
At George Idah Primary School in Oredo Local Government Area, which serves as distribution centre for 36 units, it was observed that the INEC officials chose to distribute the PVCs unit by unit, starting from unit one.
Those, who were not available when their units were called, had to wait endlessly for their units to be called again, while those who could not wait angrily left for their destinations.
Luggard Agbonlahor, who spoke with Sunday Tribune, said he arrived early in the morning thinking that the cards would be distributed on first-come-first-serve arrangement or alphabetically.