- Yakubu promises improvement
Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
A civil society group under the umbrella of The Situation Room, monday in Abuja said the direct interference by security forces to truncate voting and collation of results at unit level in the Rivers State rerun election was unprecedented and was widely reported within the Rivers East senatorial district.
At a function attended by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mohammed Yakubu, and members of the National Assembly, the Chairman of the Situation Room, Mr. Clement Nwakwo, accused INEC officials of being responsible for most of the disruptions in the Rivers rerun election as their delay in releasing electoral materials led to confusion in many ward/polling units where electorate thought that election would no longer hold.
According to him, “Objections and blockade to the distribution of materials occurred at both the state and local government levels.”
Presenting its findings on the Rivers rerun election, the group advised both the government and INEC to investigate the violence, intimidation and bribery in relation to the result from the Rivers poll, noting that serious and credible allegations have been made against major political parties that participated in the election
It also asked INEC to immediately release a breakdown of results for all the areas in the state (to unit level) for both the March and December polls.
“This should be made available to political parties, observers and the media along with reports of all incidents affecting the credibility of the polls,” the Situation Room added.
Other demands by the group included an investigation into the directly observed reports of security services interfering in polls and urgent remedial steps to prevent any further abuse by political office holders; an investigation leading to the killing of police officer, DSP Alkali, and bringing to account all the persons responsible for his killing and all other deaths that occurred during the elections.
Mr. Udo Jude Ilo, who presented a key note address at the meeting berated the INEC for its bad conduct, saying the nation’s electoral fortune since the past 22 months has been that of mixed bag of little success and grave disappointments.
He added: “It is then very disheartening that after the monumental success of the 2015 general election, Nigeria seemed to be on auto reverse on the quality of elections.
“After the world celebrated Nigeria for its electoral maturity, we are still confronted with electoral rascality as is seen in Rivers State; questionable postponement in Edo; perceived manipulations in Ondo and violence and bribery in Bayelsa.”
The INEC chairman on his part, promised better outing in subsequent elections.
He said the commission has started preparations for 2019 general election as they are looking into possible electoral law amendments to make their work much better.
He also said INEC has begun the process of empowering diaspora voting, review of polling units which was started by his predecessor.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Abubakar Kyari, said the Senate was working on the amendment proposals of the Electoral Act for 2019.
He also said he had personally sponsored a bill for the creation of election violence commission which would handle all cases on electoral violence.