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.

Anambra Assembly Poll: Voters Revolt Over Stolen Result Sheet

anambra state-voters revolt on electionThe House of Assembly re-run in 32 wards and 500 polling units in Anambra State has been conducted amidst complaints of electoral fraud and malpractice.

Several inconsistencies during the April 11 House of Assembly election led to the cancellation of the poll in 32 wards and 500 polling units spread across Anaocha, Aguata and Ekwusigo Local Government Areas.

At a primary school in Egbema Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area, where there were three polling units with over 500 registered voters each, accreditation with the card reader was successful. Though, the turnout of voters was not impressive.

The situation was not the same at Umuoru Hall in Uga ward 1. The center had five polling units but voters were at daggers drawn fracas with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials who they asked to produce the result sheets.

The suspicion of the missing result sheets was created by the two Supervising Presiding Officers posted to the unit who suddenly disappeared with their cell phones switched off.

The people accused some of the political heavy weights in the community, who they felt were battling for supremacy, as responsible for the electoral fraud.

Uga ward 1 had 25 polling units. The incumbent Senator representing the Anambra South senatorial zone, Senator Andy Uba, as well as the incumbent member of the House of Assembly, Honorable Ikechukwu Umeh, were both registered voters in the ward and are in different political parties.

As the war raged on, many voters left while some in polling unit 023 continued with accreditation.

However, the Presiding officer succumbed to the intense pressure of cancelling the election in Umuoru as the calls he put across to his superiors ended with him writing a report on the election that couldn’t hold due to disruption by party agents.

While voting was successfully done at polling unit 005 at St Peters, voters at Umumonye Hall did not see any INEC official or ballot materials and they were not given any reason for the disenfranchisement.

Card Reader Performance A Disaster In Anambra – Obiano

obianoAnambra State Governor, Willie Obiano has called the overall performance of the card reader device in the State ‘a disaster’, noting that his fingerprints could not be captured despite several attempts.

“Well, it was in my opinion a disaster at the early stages”, Obiano said during an interview on Channels Television’s special election programme, Nigeria 2015.

He went further to explain that as at 10:30 on Saturday morning, INEC officials were absent at his Polling Unit,  while the queue was more than a quarter of a mile long.

According to the governor, INEC officials arrived at noon following a call to the REC, however, the card reader was not working.

“But before then, substantially everywhere, the comment I was getting was that the card reader wasn’t working. As a matter of fact, I received so many calls that I got so worried,” he said.

“I had to now call Professor Jega to say – Prof, this card is not working anywhere in Anambra. Prof said it is not true”, Obiano said, noting that the INEC Chairman disagreed with his report, afterwhich he (Obiano) called President Goodluck Jonathan to “show my displeasure at what is going on”.

However, the card readers eventually worked at about 2:00pm, Obiano disclosed, adding that his 10 fingerprints were not accepted by the device.

“We did it about three to four times, 10 fingers, it didn’t go through. They now used the register”, he said, also noting that he was not given an incidence form.

The governor also listed other issues recorded in the State including non availability of result sheets at some polling units as well as cases of thuggery.

Manual accreditation was eventually applied in the State.

Commenting on the extension of voting exercise till Sunday, Obiano advised the umpire body to learn from mistakes made to get more organised and ensure prompt arrival at polling units and better performance of the card readers.

Ebola: Oshiomhole Sensitises Market Women In Edo

EbolaGovernor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has held a sensitisation meeting with market women in the state on precautionary measures to take in order to stop the spread of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease in the state.

Speaking at the meeting with the market women in Benin City, on Monday, the Governor urged the women to be wary of contacts as they travel for business across the nation.

Oshiomole, advised the market women leaders to sensitise their members “to be wary of whom they shake or embrace because the disease causes serious sickness that can lead to death at short notice.

“It is good that we should know what to do as people travel to different parts of the country. People walk about and we do not know those who are infected. That is why we must be prepared and plan so that if anybody sees any victim, he or she should know what to do,” he said. He urged the leaders of the market woman to pass the same message to their members across the state.

The Governor also sensitised the market women on the value of the INEC Permanent Voters’ Cards and advised against procrastination during that period.

“I am advising all of you to set aside whatever you may be doing and go to your respective centres as may be designated by INEC officials and make sure you collect your cards because it is your power as the 2015 general elections draws closer.

“As busy women, some of you may want to procrastinate your collection to a later date. It is risky because the exercise, according to INEC, will last for three days. So we want to ensure that within those three days, every market woman goes to the designated centres to collect their permanent voters’ card because without that, you cannot vote and if you have the temporary voters’ card, you will not be allowed to vote.”

He also urged the market women to educate their members that they can swear to an affidavit to enable them get permanent voters’ card if the temporary ones issued to them had been misplaced or lost.

Responding on behalf of the representatives of the Market Women from Edo South, the leader of the delegation, Mrs Blacky Omoregie, thanked the Governor for the sensitization meeting and gave assurances that market women would respond to the call for personal hygiene and caution.