INEC at Crossroads over Rivers Re-run Polls

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Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

There are indications that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may be at crossroads over the remaining results of the legislative re-run elections in Rivers State.

This came as a result of intense pressure from both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as non-governmental organisations.

A senior official of the Rivers State headquarters of INEC, who would not wish to be named, admitted on Tuesday that the commission had been under intense pressure, even more than in the build-up to the rerun election.

He said the commission was now under pressure on how to handle the impasse created by the suspension of election in the eight local government areas and the affected federal constituencies.

His words: “The mandate given to us, through the various court orders, was to conduct election into 37 seats declared vacant by the court.

“We were in the process of doing that on March 19 but it was scuttled by violence and other forms of disturbances. This made us to suspend the election in some of the affected areas.

“As things stand now, we have announced 15 results out of the 37 seats mandated by the court. Our main headache is how to handle the remaining 22 seats. This is more problematic than the real election of March 19.”

Controversy had trailed the conduct of the re-run elections with the major contenders pointing accusing fingers at INEC for its poor handling of the exercise.

Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr Austin Tam-George, yesterday alleged of a desperate move by INEC to “subvert the will of Rivers people”.

In a statement issued in Port Harcourt, Tam-George called INEC officials to act within the law and respect the free choices made by the Rivers people in the recent rerun election in the state.

He warned a national INEC Commissioner, Mrs. Amina Zakari, and the Minister opf Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi “to cease and desist from subverting the electoral outcomes in Tai-Eleme federal constituency, Ikwerre local government and other constituencies in Rivers State, whose results are still being held hostage by INEC, in collusion with APC in Rivers State.”