Ahead of the up coming February 14 general elections, a team of soldiers, popularly called OP MESSA attached to 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala in Ogun State, yesterday, intercepted a truck-load of about 36,00 ballot boxes at Odogbolu axis of the Sagamu-Ijebu Ode Expressway.
The soldiers did not waste any time in handing over the truck and the contents to the Police in Ijebu-Ode area command. two other trucks escaped with boxes filled with ballot papers we also learnt.
Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, confirmed the story, saying, however, he was only aware of one truck loaded with 3,600 ballot boxes that was intercepted.
He said: “When the soldiers could not ascertain the authenticity of the ballot boxes, they handed them over to the Police at Ijebu-Ode Area Command to commence investigation.
“Right now, we had 3,600 ballot boxes belonging to Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“Some top officials of INEC and at Wharf have called us to say that the consignment belongs to INEC and that the ballot boxes are meant for its INEC office at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
“The INEC official said the contractor or agent would come to the Police headquarters with relevant documents to clarify the authenticity of the vehicle.
“The items are with us at the command, while we are waiting for the relevant documents.”
When asked whether a particular political party had been linked with the incident, the Police spokesperson said it would be premature to jump into conclusion on the status of the consignment.
He said: “It is too early for us to say that those items are illegal. With the information we have, they are INEC’s property. If we cannot see those documents to verify ownership, we will take necessary steps.”
Responding to the allegation that two trucks escaped, Adejobi said: “I am aware of just one vehicle, which contains 3,600 ballot boxes.
“One person is in custody in connection with the vehicle and if there are other vehicles, our officers are on the road to apprehend them.
“An original document was tendered by security agents and governmental agencies, particularly INEC. All the documents with us point towards INEC as owner, but we are not relying on that.”