‘Why We Walked Out of Rivers INEC Stakeholders Meeting’

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Representatives of the Coalition of Governorship Candidates and Party Chairmen in Rivers State, Warigbani Ezekiel Zebulun and Chibuzor Anele recount the incidents that led to the disruption of a stakeholders meeting convened by the Independent National Electoral Commission

The electoral umpire through the Admin Secretary of INEC, Rivers State, Elder Etim Umoh in his welcome/ opening remarks during the stakeholders meeting reported that the collation process was suspended because of widespread violence and the breakdown of law and order during the process.

In what proved the patience and readiness to the Coalition of Governorship Candidates and Party chairmen  for a peaceful and united Rivers State, the tripartite presentations of INEC by Elder Etim Umoh, Mrs. Mbu-Agbamuche, and Mr. Don Umealor which centred on their resolve to commence the presentation of already collated 17 LGA results was endured until the interactive session.

Some truth finding questions were asked during this session by the three governorship candidates of AAC, ADC and APDA. The questions were these:

(1) Who is in custody of the collated results? Why are the collated results not in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria since INEC had been accused of partisanship?

(2) How many LGAs were collated before the suspension of the collation process? How did the Commission arrive at 17 LGAs?

(3) During the fact finding mission by INEC, how many parties were invited? How did they get their facts since Mrs. Mbu-Agbamuche confessed in the interactive session  in Port-Harcourt that they carried out their fact findings without inviting all the parties involved for their submissions?

(4) Who are the electoral officers changed in the process and why were they changed?

(5) What is the proof of the authenticity of collated results since INEC and the Fact Finding Committee were already biased?

(6) Since INEC is aware that the Rivers election/ suspension of collation of results, and the legality of the Fact Finding Committee is before the court of law for determination, why are they going ahead with this process?

In the event of the last question, the PDP supporters and the National Commissioner supervising Bayelsa, Edo and Rivers States, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu reacted violently and in the attempt to halt further questions created so much uproar and disruption. Hence, members of the Coalition of Governorship Candidates and Party Chairmen walked out and addressed the press who rushed out in their numbers within the Omni Event Centre premises.

In the main, the Governorship Candidate of AAC wondered why certificates of return had already been provided for Nyesom Wike, 22 House of Assembly candidates of the PDP and one for the SDP when collation had since been suspended. He therefore called for cancellation of the entire process. Similarly, the Governorship Candidate of the APDA questioned the legality of the stakeholders meeting and other subsequent electoral processes since the Rivers election matters is in the safe hands of the court of law in Abuja. He therefore called for a halt of the entire process until the matter is determined.

It became obvious that Mrs. Agbamuche-Mbu who was a member of the Fact Finding Committee return to Rivers State intensified the uproar and walk out. Gov. Wike recounted that the opening remarks by the Administrative Secretary of INEC paved way for the call on cancellation of the entire process. Videos of the stakeholders meeting shall be released for further public scrutiny.

The Coalition of Governorship Candidates and Party Chairmen in Rivers State, are therefore compelled to call on the INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmud Yakubu to immediately withdraw Mrs. Agbamuche-Mbu from an already tensed Rivers State. We are also compelled to agitate for the removal of Sir Precious Barido as IPAC Chairman on the ground that he is no longer the State Chairman of Accord Party. These are the positions of the coalition