In reaction to pressure to conclude the March 12 bloody rerun election in Rivers State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) friday said that it would only fix a date for the conclusion after securing guarantees from security agencies, political parties and their supporters on a conducive atmosphere for a credible poll.
The commission in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja and signed by its Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, also promised to announce more results from the constituencies where it is satisfied that voting and collation were done in “substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and guidelines.”
In a swift reaction, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike welcomed the news, stating that the delay in declaring collated result was needless since the results in the different polling units were already known by everybody.
According to the commission, election results to be declared are from constituencies where collation had been concluded but declaration or return were yet to be made as well as areas where voting had been concluded and collation was on-going but yet to be concluded.
INEC said the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Rivers State would give further details of the constituencies and the nature of exercise to be undertaken in the next few days.
On the arrangement for fresh election, INEC said it would decide on a date for fresh elections in the areas affected by the disruption, starting with simultaneous accreditation and voting.
“While the commission is committed to conducting free, fair and credible election, it hereby restates its resolve not to return to Rivers State or elsewhere where there was breakdown of law and order during elections, until there is a conducive atmosphere for conduct of free and credible election,” it said.
The statement said at the time of suspending the Rivers re-run elections, the electoral process were in various stages, including constituencies with already declared results and return of winners, results declared but returns not made, collation concluded but no declarations yet to be made.
It also said that while there were areas where voting had been concluded but collation were yet to commence, there were other places where voting did not take place at all.
On the way forward, INEC said: “Faced with the above scenario, the commission restates its earlier decision to uphold the declarations and returns made in the federal and state constituencies where the exercise had been concluded.
“Similarly, the commission will conclude and make returns in constituencies where it is satisfied that voting and collation were done in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and our guidelines”.
In lamenting the ugly situation that led to the abandonment of the re-run election in Rivers State, it narrated how some of the registration area centres were invaded and barricaded by hordes of people thus disrupting commencement of the exercise in several places.
While sympathising with family of the slain youth Corper who lost his life during the election, INEC condemned politicians whom it accused of spewing hate messages that further exacerbated the violence during the Rivers election.
Wike: Delay in declaring collated result needless…
Meanwhile, Governor Wike stated that the delay in declaring the collated result created rumours and suspicion about the credibility of the electoral body bearing in mind the desperation of some individuals to rig the process.
“There was no reason for the suspension of the announcement of already collated result,” he declared.
The governor told THISDAY in a telephone interview yesterday night that even if the election was done “45,000 times, PDP would win. We’ll win even if it is conducted 45,000 times.”
Wike further stated that the state government would do everything possible to promote the conduct of free and fair election in the state but would not allow outsiders “hell bent on using the military to rig the peoples’ will.”
The military cannot be used in the election. The duty of the army is to guard against attacks and not to be arresting people at polling units or carrying ballot boxes. That is not their job. Amaechi has been bragging and dropping the President’s name. That he has his support to try to manipulate the electoral process. But we are saying no, you cannot do that. We are resisting his impunity and violence. And we are saying ‘leave the president out of this.’
“The President is busy trying to fulfill his electoral promises and you come here, dropping his name to rig the election. We will not let that happen. President Buhari didn’t send him to come and rig the election and has repeatedly stated that he wants free and fair elections, we share this position. It is wrong for Amaechi to come here and be dropping the president’s name in order to rig the process. It won’t work.
They saw that they were losing badly so they ran away from the collation centres to create problems. Again, we are prepared to support the process that guarantees free and fair election. Let the military keep their distance from election points. That is all we ask of INEC.”