Inconclusive Election: Again, INEC Recants, Resumes Results Collation in Bauchi

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…As Rivers AAC, APC Kick

By Chibuike Nwabuko

Abuja (Sundiata Post)The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has again reversed itself and cancelled its proposed supplementary governorship election in Bauchi State.

Recall that the commission had shortly after announcing President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the March 9th presidential election, fixed another date for the conduct of elections where polls were cancelled but later reversed itself.

In a dramatic turnaround, INEC also approved the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of the state, where the process had been stalemated, leading to the declaration of the March 9 governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state as inconclusive.

In a similar vein, after a week of silence, INEC expressed displeasure with the role played by some soldiers and armed gangs in the last general elections in Rivers State. The commission said the collation process had been disrupted by persons who attempted to subvert the will of the people. It, thus, resolved to complete the process, saying it is committed to expeditiously completing the collation process in areas where results had so far been announced.

But African Action Congress (AAC) said it was unhappy with INEC’s decisions regarding the conclusion of the March 9 governorship and state assembly elections in Rivers State. AAC alleged conspiracy between the commission and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
In a related development, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State berated INEC over claims that the electoral processes in the state were disrupted by thugs and the military. APC also opposed the plans by the commission to complete the results collation process.

INEC had scheduled supplementary elections to hold on March 23 in Bauchi State.
But announcing the changes in a statement late Friday, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, said the electoral body on March 12 considered a report submitted by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Bauchi State on the disruption of the collation process at the Tafawa Balewa Collation Centre, which led to the cancelation of results for the entire local government.

Okoye recalled that the governorship and state assembly elections were held on March 9 in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area and the votes scored by candidates were announced at the Polling Units and collated at the 11 Registration Areas of the local government. He stressed that the findings of the committee set up by the commission revealed that halfway into the local government collation, armed gangs attacked the collation centre and destroyed the Local Government Result Sheet (EC8C) and some collated results from the Registration Areas.

Okoye added that the results of seven out of the 11 Registration Areas for governorship and six out of 11 for state assembly elections were affected. He noted that INEC guidelines provided that where violent disruption affected collation in this manner; results should be regenerated from duplicate copies on a replacement result sheet.

According to him, “The Collation Officer, under pressure from Party Agents who could not wait for the arrival of a replacement result sheet, decided to collate the result on an available RA result sheet instead of the replacement LGA result sheet.
“When the result was presented at the State Governorship Collation Centre, the Returning Officer rejected the regenerated result, because it was on a wrong result sheet. The Investigation Committee established that the result in Polling Units and Registration Areas are available and in safe custody.
“The Investigation Committee also established that the number of cancelled votes for the four Polling Units in Ningi Local Government Area, which was recorded as 25,330 in form EC40G (1), was incorrect.

“The actual figure is 2,533. Consequently, the Commission has taken the following decisions: approved the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area in relation to the governorship election as the duplicate and original Registration Area results are available; approved the resumption, conclusion and announcement of the result of the Tafawa Balewa State Constituency.”

He said the electoral body also approved “The appointment of a new Collation/Returning Officer for Tafawa Balewa Local Government to continue and conclude the collation process in place of the original Collation Officer, who withdrew from the exercise citing threats to her life and those of her family members.
“The Collation process for Tafawa Balewa Local Government will resume on Tuesday, 19th March 2019. The Commission directed that the error in the total number of cancelled votes in four polling units in Ningi Local Government Area should be corrected from 25,330 to 2,533.”

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