Rivers Elections: Wike, Biokpomabo Appear Before INEC Fact-finding Committee

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Nyesom-Wike

• AAC candidate wants commission to declare him winner, redeploy REC

• IPAC, CUPP: Disregard calls for transfer of Rivers REC

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nyesom Wike and the governorship candidate of the African Action Alliance (AAC), Awara Biokpomabo, yesterday appeared before the fact-finding committee set up by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) behind closed doors.

This is coming as Biokpomabo called on INEC to declare him winner of last Saturday’s governorship elections and also redeploy the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Obo Effanga.

But the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and Coalition of Political Parties (CUPP) in the state have called on INEC to disregard the calls for the transfer of the REC but should restart the collation exercise and declare Wike winner.

INEC, had on Sunday while announcing the suspension of the electoral process in Rivers State, said it would set up a fact-finding committee to “assess the situation and report back within 48 hours.”

THISDAY gathered that Wike and Biokpomabo appeared separately before the INEC fact-finding committee yesterday behind closed doors.

Neither candidate has spoken on the nature or outcome of the meeting.

However, addressing journalists in the state shortly after appearing before the INEC committee, Biokpomabo, who is being backed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) faction led by Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, claimed he was leading Wike in 15 out of the 23 local government areas before INEC suspended the process in the state.

He said, “The INEC pleaded insecurity, violence, seizure of electoral materials by hoodlums as the reasons for suspending the remaining stages of the election. I reject the reason given by INEC. This is because in the local government areas that were affected, voting had concluded, results declared at the polling units and collation had begun before the abrupt suspension of the process. The commission does not have the power under our Electoral Act to suspend elections that has already been concluded.

But addressing a joint press conference yesterday evening, IPAC and CUPP called on the National Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, to disregard calls by a “few renegade APC-sponsored governorship candidates for the transfer of the Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner and the State Administrative Secretary of INEC”.

The groups, that represent 86 political parties and 54 governorship candidates, said there was no justification for the calls for the transfer of the electoral umpires.

Chairman of IPAC in Rivers State, Precious Baridoo, presented their position in Port Harcourt.

They said: “These calls sponsored by the Minister of Transportation and the APC are aimed at creating the ugly atmosphere for the concoction of results and the rigging of the state governorship election, which has been won by Wike.

“We also strongly condemn the criminal use of the Nigerian Army by the APC to abduct electoral officers and snatch already collated results for the purpose of rigging the governorship election in favour of the APC supported Candidate.

“It is most unfortunate that the APC led soldiers of the Nigerian Army to invade the State Collation Centre at INEC Headquarters in Port Harcourt as captured on videos aired on Channels Television and AIT. The whole world saw how they planned to bring in cooked results to alter the will of Rivers people.”

They berated the military for disrupting the governorship election collation process in the state.

He said: “We also condemn the military for disrupting the collation process for the governorship election in Rivers State. We call on President Buhari to take immediate steps to punish all the military personnel involved in this coup against democracy..”

Meanwhile, Rivers State PDP Campaign Council has told Biokpomabo that the position of governorship of Rivers State is for mature people, tested and experienced persons and not for school boys with no record of public service.

The Director of Information and Communications of the State PDP Campaign Council Barr Emma Okah made this known in reaction to a press confefence held today in Port Harcourt by the AAC governorship candidate.

“I have seen and read a copy of the said press conference and our conclusion is that the entire content is as worthless as the piece of paper bearing the speech and it would be worthless to offer him a response”

However, allegations of wrongdoing against Gov Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and the PDP in the press conference are false, baseless and lacking in merit.