Nigeria: NYSC Members Decry Maltreatment By INEC Officials

NYSC Corps members
19 February 2019

Some members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as ad-hoc staff for the 2019 elections, have complained over what they described as poor treatment meted to them by the commission.

Some of the corps members, who spoke with the North East Trust, bitterly complained about the "inhuman treatment" they were subjected to by the INEC officials during the postponed Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for last Saturday.

According to them, the electoral commission has informed the NYSC directorate that they would provide accommodation and transport for all the corps members engaged as ad-hoc staff.

However, some of the corps members said they used their money to transport themselves to their various Registration Area Centres (RACs) and slept on bare floor despite the harmattan cold.

A Corp member posted to Kwami LGA, Adelemoni Grace Jafe recounted her experience to our correspondent.

"I was posted to Kwami LGA and before our posting the NYSC Zonal Inspector informed us that the INEC would convey us to the LGA headquarters at Malam Sidi town. However, she later came with information that we should find our ways to our respective RACs.

"By the time we reached Malam Sidi it was a few minutes after 8pm. The INEC staff left us standing in the cold and nobody told us what was going on. It was around 1a.m. when they gathered us and brought a truck which conveyed us to the RACs.

"I was posted to Daban Fulani, we reached the village around 2:30am, upon arrival we were given classrooms as our accommodation with only three mats for about 10 of us. So we literally slept on bare floor," she said.

According to Jafe, when the election was postponed, the INEC officials returned and collected the election materials and left them again in the cold till the following morning when they boarded commercial vehicles back to Gombe.

"We transported ourselves to the Malam Sidi and after the postponement we have to find our ways back to Gombe."

Narrating his ordeal, another Corp member posted to Shamaki in Gombe metropolis, Simon Joseph, said he was disappointed with the preparation and logistics arrangements by the electoral body.

"We used our money to transport ourselves to our respective RACs. The initial arrangement was that the INEC will convey us from the INEC office in Gombe LGA to our respective RACs. But we don't know what happened to that arrangement, they just asked us to move to our respective RACs and wait for both the sensitive and non-sensitive materials.

"Most of us slept there on bare floor with mosquitoes biting us. In fact, some of us didn't even get shortlisted for the exercise but went in anticipation that their names will come in the final list" Joseph said.

He added that it was on Sunday, a day after the election was postponed, that the INEC called and paid them the sum of N1000 and N4, 500 as training and transport allowances respectively.

Terna Kumam, a Corp member posted to Herwagana Ward of Gombe metropolis as INEC Presiding Officer, also said she went through a horrible experience.

"We went to the INEC LGA office by 6p.m. and waited till 8p.m. when they brought in the materials from CBN and took them in their vehicles to the RACs. They then asked us to move to the RACs ourselves, where some of us were given mats, while some slept on bare floors and no one talked to us.

"It was around 3a.m. when they came and informed us that the election was postponed and we could go. They took their materials and abandoned us there in the cold. We have to wait for the day to break in order to find commercial transport and return to our respective lodges," Kumam complained.

Corroborating Kumam's story, Lois Bawa said she slept on a school bench after finding her way to the area she was posted at Pantami Ward of Gombe metropolis.

"We are human beings and have parents. We were supposed to get a better place to sleep. We left our homes to participate in the name of national assignment, only to be exposed to mosquitos bites.

"They should have provided us with some blankets because of the cold. Unfortunately, most of us didn't make any provision thinking they would provide those things to us," Bawa said.

When contacted, the INEC Public Relations Officer in Gombe, Mr Moharret Bigun, said the commission has made adequate provision for the comfort of all ad-hoc staff engaged for the exercise.

According to him, the INEC has provided vehicles to convey the ad-hoc staff to their respective RACs but some of them decided to transport themselves.

"There was provision for all the necessary items that will make them comfortable for the exercise. For instance, we made arrangements for items like mats to lay their heads and water tanks and buckets for them to freshen up before the commencement of the election.

"However, the election was postponed before we could make such items available at the respective areas we camped them. But we are assuring them that things will be different this week," he said.

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