Rivers Election: NYSC DG Visits Family Of Slain Corper

NYSCThe Director General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has paid a visit to the family of the NYSC member believed to have been shot dead by unknown gunmen in Ahoada West Local Government Area Rivers State during the rerun elections in the state.

Brigadier General Johnson Olawunmi was at his hometown in Ila Local Government Area of Delta State accompanied by the state coordinator and a few serving corps members.

It was a sad atmosphere as the family of late Chukwudumebi received the DG and his train and with lots of regrets the family poured out their hearts on the demise of their loved one.

Addressing the relatives, the NYSC DG, Brigadier General Johnson Olawunmi said that Chukwudumebi Okonta’s death is a great loss, not only to his immediate family, but also to the NYSC and the entire nation.

He promised that investigations were on to unravel the mystery behind the death.

The NYSC boss promised to work with relevant agencies to ensure that the perpetrators of the heinous act are fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law.

The Corps member, Chukwudumebi Okonta was an orphan and also the eighth of nine children.


INEC To Announce Date For Fresh Rivers Rerun

INECNigeria’s electoral umpire, INEC has restated its decision to uphold results of the Rivers rerun elections in the federal and state constituencies where the exercise had been concluded.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has also promised to announce results in constituencies where it is satisfied that voting and collation were done in compliance with the electoral act.

In a statement, INEC says, it will conduct fresh elections on a date to be decided in all local government areas, constituencies, registration areas and polling units where the exercise was disrupted before voting was concluded on Saturday march19th.

The commission, however, insists it will not return to Rivers State until a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of fresh elections is guaranteed.

According to INEC “Even where dates have been fixed and published, the commission will not hesitate to again suspend the exercise where there is a clear danger or credible threat of a breakdown of law and order”.

The commission also commiserates with the National Youth Service Corps as well as the family, friends and colleagues of Samuel Dumebi Okonta, the corps member who lost his life while serving as a poll official.

Below is INEC’s full statement on Rivers State Rerun election:

Following the disruption of the re-run elections in Rivers state and the consequent suspension of further action in the exercise, the Independent National Electoral Commission held a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Rivers State and its Supervisors and Monitors who were in the State.

The Commission has considered the submissions of these officials and undertaken an audit of its personnel deployed as polling officials and for related duties. Its findings are that the elections were characterized by violence, intimidation, threats, palpable fear and abduction of some of its officials in many areas.

INEC acknowledges that there were some challenges in its operational efficiency, especially as it concerns the production and customization of the result sheets used for the conduct of the election.

Specifically, there was the omission of the original watermark in the result sheets for a few polling units in 3 (three) Federal Constituencies and the omission of some delimitation details in 47 (forty seven) of the over 20,000 (twenty thousand) booklets produced. Political Parties that participated in the elections and their accredited agents, witnessed the distribution of all materials from the Central Bank Vaults and subsequent distribution to the various INEC Local Government Area Offices and the Registration Area Centres (RACs).

On election day some of the RACs were invaded and barricaded by hordes of people who prevented our officials from leaving for the polling units, thus disrupting the prompt commencement of the exercise in many places. Fortunately, the Commission was able to undertake the exercise in several places after explanations by the INEC staff and further validation/authentication of these result sheets by the endorsement of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) and Electoral Officers (EOs) of some of these Local Government Areas.

The Commission wishes to emphatically state that there were no fake result sheets or any fake materials used in the conduct of the elections.

Position as at Time of Suspension
As at the time of the suspension of further action by the Commission, the exercise was at different stages, as follows:
(i.) The Elections had been concluded in some constituencies with the declaration of results and return of winners by the respective Returning Officers;
(ii.) Results declared and/or returns made under duress or by unauthorised persons;
(iii.) Collation had been concluded but no declaration or return made;
(iv.) Voting had been concluded and collation was on-going but yet to be concluded;
(v.) Voting concluded but collation yet to commence;
(vi.) No voting at all or voting commenced but was disrupted before conclusion.

Modalities and Way Forward
Faced with the above scenario, the Commission restates its earlier decision to uphold the declarations and returns made in the Federal and State Constituencies where the exercise had been concluded.

Similarly, the Commission will conclude and make returns in constituencies where it is satisfied that voting and collation were done in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and our Guidelines (This will cover scenarios iii, iv and v above).

Further details as to the constituencies and the nature of the exercise will be announced by the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the next few days.

INEC will, at a date to be decided, conduct fresh elections starting with accreditation and voting in all Local Government Areas, Constituencies, Registration Areas and Polling Units where the exercise was disrupted before voting was concluded on Saturday 19th March, 2016. Even so, this will only be after due consultation with stakeholders and subject to the advice of the Security Agencies and guarantees by the Political Parties, Candidates and their supporters.

While the Commission is committed to conducting free, fair and credible elections, it hereby reiterates its resolve not to return to Rivers State (or anywhere else where there was a breakdown of law and order in the cause of conducting elections) until there is a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of credible elections. As a responsible organization, it will not expose its stakeholders especially voters, its officials, observers, media personnel to any danger and even where dates have been fixed and published, it will not hesitate to again suspend the exercise where there is a clear danger or credible threat of a breakdown of law and order.

INEC reassures that all materials used for the conduct of the elections which were not destroyed by hoodlums are safe and are being kept in secure custody.

The Commission condemns in no uncertain terms all those who have been spewing hate speeches and making incendiary statements, which no doubt exacerbated an already tense situation. It will like to again commiserate with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the family, friends and colleagues of Samuel Dumebi Okonta, the Corps member who unfortunately lost his life in this patriotic service as a poll official. May his soul rest in peace.

Issued this 25th day of March, 2016

Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi
Director, Voter Education and Publicity, INEC.


Wike Blames INEC, Security Operatives For Chaos

Governor WikeThe Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, is blaming Nigerian Army personnel and INEC for the chaos in most of the local government areas where results of the re-run elections have been cancelled.

He said while INEC failed to print a uniform form with federal government seal for all the council areas, the soldiers according to him acted beyond their brief by attempting to stop party agents from accompanying electoral materials.

“As early as 9AM yesterday morning I was getting calls from local governments. I got a call from Bonny Local Government that ‘look the results they brought to us, we don’t think its original’.

“I asked ‘how do you know the original result?’ They said the one they had seen for the Senate was different as they could see the coat of arms and the one for the House of Assembly also had the coast of arms but the one for the House of Reps had nothing and was not even signed.

“I got to the REC on phone and told him about the complaints, he said that the problem was that he told the electoral officers (EO) to counter-sign those ones that don’t have codes so that that would form as original but most of them did not sign,” Governor Wike said.

He also berated the security operatives for allegedly failing to play their expected role during the election.

He said that he had suggested that the military should not be involved in the election but play strictly the role of providing security and manning strategic positions.

Rivers Rerun: Missing INEC Electoral Officer Found

Rivers Rerun Election INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers State, Mr Aniedi Ikoiwak, has confirmed that the electoral officer for Ikwerre who was earlier declared missing during the Rivers rerun election has been found alive.

Mr Osifo Osaze is reported to have been attacked by gunmen who opened fire on his vehicle but he managed to escape his assailants into the bush.

The REC told Channels Television that Mr Osaze was found with bullet wounds and has been taken to hospital for treatment.

In another incident, a Youth Corps ad hoc INEC official was killed during violence at a polling unit in Ahoada West Local Government area on Saturday.

Mr Ikoiwak said that further announcements on the polls will be made in due course.

INEC had suspended further activities in the Rivers State rerun elections following the violent incidents trailing the conduct of the polls.

In a statement late on Sunday, INEC’s Director in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, regretted that “some of these elections witnessed the disruption of the process, including the barricading of  some of the INEC Local Government offices and Registration Area Centres (RACs) used for the distribution of Electoral materials which led to the late commencement of the exercise in some places and consequently, its smooth take off”.

He said that “the suspension does not affect constituencies where the exercise has been completed and the results declared by the returning officers”.

INEC had earlier suspended election in eight local government areas of the state.

Addressing reporters earlier on Sunday the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Aniedi Ikoiwak, said that the cancelation was due to irregularities at the affected local government areas.

Lawmakers Pledge Support For Amaechi

Some members in the House of Representative have pledged their solidarity and support for the Rivers state Governor, Chibuike Amaechi.

Leading the Rivers state lawmakers, Asita O. Asita, representing Ahoada-West and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Federal Constituency, lauded the efforts of the Governor in “putting smiles on the faces of Rivers people through his people-oriented projects,” in the past five years and four months of his administration.

During a solidarity visit to the Governor in the Government House, Port Harcourt, the group assured him of their willingness to  join in the fight against immorality and impunity against the will of Rivers people.

Mr Asita futher touched on the issue rocking the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and congratulated him for the show of uncommon courage and statesmanship in the face of uncovered hostilities towards his person as governor.

The Rivers caucus promised to deploy the instrumentality of the National Assembly to focus on East-West road construction project which they say will enhance the economy of the Niger Delta region.

Jonathan commends Rivers state government over handling of flood victims

President Goodluck Jonathan has commended the Rivers state government for promptly addressing the plight of communities and persons affected by ravaging floods in the past two weeks.

Speaking on Saturday while addressing flood victims in the state camped at Model Primary School, Mbiama in Ahoada West, President Jonathan praised Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s effort in providing relief materials for the displaced persons.

The president assured them of more aid from the federal government.

President Jonathan, who had visited Delta and Bayelsa states, flew straight from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, promised to supply them with all the farming necessities that would help them settle back to their farm steads.

Flying over four floods devastated local government areas, Jonathan lamented that the flood is the worst the state has ever experienced in 43 years

Governor Amaechi said government would do all in its power to ensure effective medical and good sanitation conditions and advised the people on proper sanitation of their environment.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Rivers State Flood Relief Committee, and deputy governor of the state, Engr. Tele Ikuru has disclosed that the number of flood victims has risen from 670,582 to 830,000 while communities affected are now 183 from the previous 150 and called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to intensify efforts in the provision of relief materials to affected people in the state.

NEMA Director of Training, Mr. Daniel Gambo commended the state government for taking adequate steps in camping and catering for the welfare of the flood victims.

On behalf of his agency, he presented relief materials which included 500 units of mattresses, 200 bags of rice and beans, vegetable oil and some clothing. He promised that more relief materials would be sent to the state.

The president was accompanied by governors of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, Bayelsa, Seriake Dickson, Sen. Clever Ikisipko, Rep. Uche Ekwunife and Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike.