The Executive Director of Contact Project, Jennifer Lynne, believes that presidential and National Assembly elections in Rivers State were indeed compromised.
She said that over the course of Saturday, she, along with the multinational civil society observation team had the opportunity to move across Port Harcourt, the state capital and observe several of the polling units.
She disclosed that at the end of the exercise the team witnessed the difficulty of the availability and security of result sheets.
She also raised questions concerning what she called compromised election materials, as well as the dysfunction of card readers as widely reported.
Responding to a question about the magnitude of the irregularities recorded and if they were enough to invalidate the election, Ms Lynne said, “This will be a question of the INEC being able to hear these complaints and make decisions upon the validity based on the reports they are getting.
“At the press conference that was held today, there were additional international reporters and observers present who would confirm violence and election tampering.
“So I will leave it to the INEC to take seriously the concerns that have been raised.”
Controversies have trailed the Saturday election in the state, with Governor Rotimi Amaechi raising an alarm that elections did not hold in several Local Government Areas owing to the unavailability of result sheets at polling units, which he said was a deliberate act by the Peoples Democratic Party with the connivance of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The view was also shared by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship Candidate in the state, Dakuku Peterside, who had earlier in the day led a peaceful protest demanding that INEC schedules a proper election in the state.
Ms Lynne also threw her weight behind the citizens’ refusal of the exercise. She stated that the protests held on Sunday across the streets of Port Harcourt were justified.
“Some of our international community members have reported ballot boxes that were broken. We have seen violence and intimidation recorded as well at some polling areas,” she said, adding that her team had also made attempts to report their findings at the INEC headquarters but were refused entrance into the facility.
She, however, promised that her team as well as other international organisations monitoring the elections would ensure that they submit their reports to INEC as soon as possible to help the commission in making a timely decision.
The PDP governorship candidate in Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has debunked APC’s allegations that there were no elections in Rivers State, including the observations recorded by Ms Lynne and other international election observers.