- Says commission committed to expeditious completion of collation process where results have been announced in Rivers
- To release detailed timelines for completion of elections in Rivers Wednesday
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shelved the supplementary governorship election scheduled to hold on March 23, 2019 in Bauchi state and has approved the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area.
The commission has also expressed its displeasure with the role played by some soldiers and armed gangs in Rivers State in disrupting the collation process and attempting to subvert the will of the people, stressing that it is committed to expeditious completion of the collation process where results of the elections have been announced.
The Commission’s National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement Saturday.
He said that on the 12th March, 2019, the electoral body considered a report submitted by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Bauchi State on the disruption of the Collation process at the Tafawa Balewa Collation Centre which led to the cancelation of results for the entire Local Government.
Okoye said that the Governorship and State Assembly elections were held on the 9th March 2019 in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area and the votes scored by candidates were announced at the Polling Units and collated at the 11 Registration Areas of the Local Government.
He stressed that the findings of the committee set up by the commission revealed that halfway into the Local Government collation, armed gangs attacked the collation centre and destroyed the Local Government Result Sheet (EC8C) and some collated results from the Registration Areas.
Okoye added that the results of seven out of 11 Registration Areas for Governorship and six out of 11 for State Assembly elections were affected.
He noted that INEC guidelines provide that where violent disruption affects collation in this manner, results should be regenerated from duplicate copies as a replacement to result sheet.
Okoye stated: “The Collation Officer, under pressure from Party Agents who could not wait for the arrival of a replacement result sheet, decided to collate the result on an available RA result sheet instead of the replacement LGA result sheet.
“When the result was presented at the State Governorship Collation Centre, the Returning Officer rejected the regenerated result because it was on a wrong result sheet.
“The Investigation Committee established that the result in Polling Units and Registration Areas are available and in safe custody.
“The Investigation Committee also established that the number of cancelled votes for the 4 Polling Units in Ningi Local Government Area which was recorded as 25,330 in form EC40G (1) was incorrect. The actual figure is 2,533. Consequently, the Commission has taken the following decisions:
“Approved the resumption and conclusion of the collation of results of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area in relation to the Governorship election as the duplicate and original Registration Area results are available.
“Approved the resumption, conclusion and announcement of the result of the Tafawa Balewa State Constituency.
“The appointment of a new Collation/Returning Officer for Tafawa Balewa Local Government to continue and conclude the collation process in place of the original Collation Officer who withdrew from the exercise citing threats to her life and those of her family members.
“The Collation process for Tafawa Balewa Local Government will resume on Tuesday, 19th March 2019.
“The Commission directed that the error in the total number of cancelled votes in four polling units in Ningi Local Government Area should be corrected from 25,330 to 2,533.”
On Rivers, Okoye noted that the Commission met on the March 15, 2019 and considered the report of the Committee.
The commission had on the March 10, 2019, suspended all electoral processes in Rivers State having determined that there was widespread disruption of collation of results of the elections conducted on the 9th March 2019.
Subsequently, the Commission set up a Fact-Finding Committee to assess the situation and report back within 48 hours.
However, the committee established that the Governorship and State Assembly elections took place in most of the polling units and results were announced.
Okoye said the committee also established that the results from 17 Local Governments out of 23 are available and are in the Commission’s custody.
He stated that the declaration and returns for 21 State Constituencies out of 32 were made prior to the suspension.
The committee equally established that collation centres were invaded by some soldiers and armed gangs resulting in the intimidation and unlawful arrest of election officials thereby disrupting the collation process.
Okoye stated: “INEC expresses its displeasure with the role played by some soldiers and armed gangs in Rivers State disrupting the collation process and attempting to subvert the will of the people.
“INEC is committed to expeditious completion of the collation process where results of the elections have been announced.”
The National Commissioner assured that the commission would engage the security agencies at national level and the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee at the State level to demand neutrality and professionalism of security personnel in order to secure a peaceful environment for the completion of the elections.
He stressed that the commission would also engage with key stakeholders in Rivers State with a view to ensuring a smooth and peaceful completion of the process.
Okoye noted that INEC would issue detailed timelines and activities for the completion of the election on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019.