By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured that the commission would engage the security agencies at the national level and the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee at the state level to demand neutrality and professionalism of security personnel in order to secure a peaceful environment for the completion of the elections.
The commission also informed that it would issue detailed timelines and activities for the completion of the election on Wednesday, March 20.
INEC National Commissioner, Okoye noted that the commission met on March 15 and considered the report of its committee.
Recall that the commission had on March 10 suspended all electoral processes in Rivers State, having determined that there was widespread disruption of collation of results for the elections conducted on March 9. Subsequently, the commission set up a fact-finding committee to assess the situation and report back within 48 hours.
The committee, however, established that the governorship and
state assembly elections took place in most of the polling units and results
were announced, adding that the results from 17 out of the 23 local governments
of the state were available and were in the commission’s custody.
Okoye stated that the declaration and returns for 21 State Constituencies out of 32 were made prior to the suspension.
The committee equally established that collation centres were invaded by some soldiers and armed gangs, resulting in the intimidation and unlawful arrest of election officials.
According to Okoye, “INEC expresses its displeasure with the role played by some soldiers and armed gangs in Rivers State disrupting the collation process and attempting to subvert the will of the people. INEC is committed to expeditious completion of the collation process, where results of the elections have been announced.”
The National Commissioner assured that the commission would engage the security agencies at the national level and the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee at the state level to demand neutrality and professionalism of security personnel in order to secure a peaceful environment for the completion of the elections.
He stressed that the commission would also engage key stakeholders in Rivers State with a view to ensuring a smooth and peaceful completion of the process, noting that INEC would issue detailed timelines and activities for the completion of the election on Wednesday, March 20.
But protesting the development, AAC’s Publicity Secretary in the
state, Felix William, said his party considered the signal coming from INEC as
William stated, “The African Action Congress in Rivers State condemns in its entirety the memo released into media space by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by midnight purporting that governorship and state assembly elections results were available for seventeen (17) LGAs.
“Sadly, we are curiously surprised and disappointed that INEC deliberately refused to name the 17 local government areas. As far as this information is concerned, it is manifestly false and the attempt to shroud the LGAs claimed to have results in secrecy is a serious step by INEC to sway the outcome of the process in favour of Governor Nyesom Wike, its preferred candidate.”
AAC, which served as alternative platform for the leadership of
the APC after it failed to present candidates for elections in the state
following multiple court rulings, expressed fears that the electoral umpire was
working to favour Wike.
AAC stated, “We suspect that INEC might be working to surreptitiously bring in cooked up results credited to Obio/Akpor to skew the balance of reality of things in favour of Wike. We vehemently reject this and will resist it with every pint of blood in us.
“It is now clear to all that INEC has become deaf and blind to the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike invaded the Obio/Akpor collation centre and ordered his security men to shoot an Army Captain and another soldier providing perimeter security to the collation centre. The Captain and his colleague are still in hospital after undergoing serious surgery.
“We ask: is it so difficult for INEC to name the 17 LGAs? If
INEC has agreed and accepted that four collation officers are card-carrying
members of PDP and INEC have now sanctioned them, what happens to the results
they collated having not been qualified to do so ab initio?
“The AAC calls on INEC to stop its collaboration with Governor Nyesom Wike and the PDP. It must declare Engr. Biokpomabo Awara, our governorship candidate winner of the March 9 governorship election as it was glaring that he was winning until INEC stepped in to halt the process apparently to save Wike from an earth-shaking defeat.”
William dismissed claims that the AAC and its candidate were not popular enough to win the Rivers State governorship election, arguing that those pushing that position are being clever by half. “Can the governor and his ilk also say that APC that threw its weight behind us, for obvious reasons, are not popular and on ground in Rivers State?” he asked.
Similarly, Director, Strategic Communications of the Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation, Tonye Princewill, faulted INEC for pointing fingers at the military, saying without their intervention elections couldn’t have held in the oil-rich Rivers State.
Princewill said, “We’ve seen the statement issued by INEC and I stand by my earlier comment that even if they tried, INEC can’t save Wike. Apart from spelling mistakes, the vague statement reveals a lot of things about an umpire that doesn’t pay attention to finer details, refuses to take any responsibility for its failures and yet goes on to equate moral equivalence between the Nigerian Army and common thugs.
position is where they reveal their true colours. The statement could easily
have been drafted in collaboration with Rivers State Government House. Let me
reiterate again that without the Army, Rivers State would have been a
bloodbath. Just like with INEC, we too have more to reveal in the days to come.
“Let’s not say too much. There is an old African proverb that says if the mouth goes to war too early, when the leg arrives, the enemy will grab it.”