A Jamaat-e-Islami leader, who is vying for the vice-chairman post in Pekua upazila in the February 27 upazila election, has been appointed as presiding officer there, violating the electoral codes.
Md Nuruzzaman, ameer of Pekua sadar union Jamaat, has already taken training on election duties, said sources in Pekua upazila office.
Nuruzzaman is a teacher at Besaratul Ulm Fazil Madrasa in Rajakhali union of Pekua, said Imtiaz Uddin, secretary general of the upazila Jamaat unit. Imtiaz himself has been appointed an assistant presiding officer.
Apart from the Jamaat duo, five BNP leaders have been appointed as polling officials in Pekua.
They are Fakhruddin Farayezee, joint convener of BNP's Chakaria municipality unit, Zainul Abedin, president of Toitong unit, Md Yusuf, secretary general of the same unit, Monirul Kabir, president of Shilkhali union Jubo Dal, and Md Ramij, former general secretary of Rajakhali union unit. Fakhruddin was appointed as presiding officer and the rest as assistant presiding officers.
Presiding officer is the chief of a polling station while assistant presiding officer is the second in command.
According to the Election Commission's guideline on appointment of polling officials, neutrality must be considered before appointment.
Contacted, an official at the EC secretariat expressed shock over such appointments.
"How can such appointments be given when neutrality is one of the key criteria in appointing polling officials? We will definitely look into the matter," he told The Daily Star, preferring anonymity.
Asked to comment, Imtiaz said, "My identity will change once I take charge as a polling official. I will then discharge my duties not as a Jamaat leader."
Nuruzzaman could not be reached over the phone despite repeated attempts.
Abul Kasem, general secretary of Pekua AL, said they filed a complaint with the returning officer over the appointments.
AL-backed chairman candidate Wahidur Rahman alleged at least 48 BNP-Jamaat leaders were appointed as polling officials in Pekua.
He claimed that UNO Mir Shawkat Hossain, also the assistant returning officer, appointed the BNP-Jamaat leaders on instructions of a senior BNP leader.
But Shawkat said, "We sought names for polling officials from educational institutions and we picked the names from the list provided by the institutions."
He added they would cancel the appointments of those involved in politics.
Returning Officer Abdul Hossain said they were looking into the allegation. "We will exclude those having political affiliations."