Chuks Okocha in Abuja
In line with its resolve to sanction electoral bad behaviour, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday announced the cancellation of election results where there were violence and the commission’s staff taken hostage by politicians.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had fortnight ago said the commission would no longer accept results where violence and staff of the commission were taken or held hostage during any election.
Reviewing the elections that took place on January 25, INEC, in a statement yesterday by its National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, said all elections results where violence took place have been cancelled.
It added that the cancellation was done to protect the electoral process.
“In furtherance of its resolve not to accept results from areas where the processes were disrupted and its officials attacked, the commission took a firm action by not accepting results from such areas as it could not vouch for their integrity. But, the commission notes that in most cases, these incidents were not widespread and did not significantly affect the overall results. As such, declarations and returns were made.
“In Akwa Ibom State, where the officials of the commission were abducted and diverted to an undesignated location and forced to compromise the elections in Essien Udim Local Government Area, all the polling units involved were identified and their results discountenanced.
“In Isa Local Government Area of Sokoto State, the activities of bandits prevented the commission from deploying staff to a few polling units, but the commission successfully conducted elections and declared results.
“In Abi State Constituency of Cross River State, officials of the commission were abducted and thus prevented from deploying its staff to eight polling units,” the statement said.
INEC added that all officials of the Commission that were abducted have been rescued and accounted for.
It also noted that in the case of Oru East/Orsu/Orlu Federal Constituency of Imo State, the election was conducted peacefully in the 18 polling units as ordered by the court.
However, it said thugs disrupted the collation of results at the designated centre in Orlu, causing injuries to INEC staff and other persons at the centre. He added that the result sheets were destroyed and the commission’s local government building being used for the collation was damaged. Consequently, the commission suspended the process, he explained.
INEC said arising from the suspension of collation, the commission has decided to apply the provision of Paragraph 47(f) of its Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of the elections, which provides that in the event of such a disruption, saved original and duplicate result sheets be used to complete the collation of results.
Accordingly, the commission has deployed a high-powered team consisting of National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners and Senior Staff of the commission to Imo State to coordinate the regeneration of results and conclusion of collation, as well as declaration and announcement of the final outcome of the rerun election in Oru East/Orsu/Orlu Federal Constituency.
The statement described the January 25 rerun elections as a marked improvement in compliance with its processes and procedures during the elections.
The commission commended the voters, security agents, the media and election staff for their praiseworthy conduct.
It said regrettably “deviant behaviour by a few persons determined to subvert the people’s will was noticed in a few areas in the course of the elections.”
“These isolated incidents minimally affected the peaceful and orderly exercise in only four of the 28 constituencies where elections were conducted,” he said.