The struggle to win more governorships between the political parties, yesterday, shifted to the media with the two major political parties accusing each other of conspiring with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and security agencies to rig the governorship elections against them where they lost out.
The recriminations came as INEC declared governorship contests in Abia, Imo and Taraba States as inconclusive.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, a coalition of 60 civil society organisations, yesterday urged INEC to clinically scrutinize results from Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers States. The coalition in a statement, yesterday particularly affirmed that there was sufficient reason to “question the credibility of the elections results in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States.”
Echoing the CSOs, the European Union, EU, Election Observation Mission, EU EOM, pointed at Rivers and Akwa Ibom States as the two most outstanding states where the elections were marred by violence and deliberate interference.
How elections were manipulated in Akwa Ibom, Rivers —APC
Briefing newsmen in Lagos, yesterday, on the outcome of the elections, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, painted a picture of how, according to him, the elections in Rivers and Akwa Ibom were manipulated by the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
He said the party was left with no option than to call for the cancellation of the election conducted in the two states.
Explaining how the elections were manipulated, in the two states, he said: “As you would recollect, our party’s chapter in Rivers had written a petition complaining of the crass partisanship of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police in the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on March 28. Because of this petition, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba posted three Commissioners of Police from the Force Headquarters to oversee the April 11 Governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State but as soon as the President learnt of this development, he directed the IGP to reverse the decision and instead requested that AIG Tunde Ogunsakin be posted to oversee the April 11 elections in Rivers State.
“As soon as electoral materials were distributed, the DPO for Akukutoru Local Government Area simply handed over the election materials for this local government to the militants. Upon learning of this development, AIG Ogunshakin ordered that the materials be recovered and given to the Electoral Officer for the local government within the next hour.
“Irked by AIG Ogunsakin’s directive, the Presidency ordered him to leave Rivers State within six hours, and a pliant replacement was asked to take over from him. From then on, unimaginative terror was unleashed on the electorate particularly on APC members and supporters. It was a straight fight between the police, the militants and the PDP on the one hand and the APC on the other hand.
“Contrary to the directive from INEC that card readers be used for the elections, the machines were discarded in Rivers and that is why the voters turnout for Rivers, as announced by INEC stood at more than 75per cent compared with the national average of between 25 and 35 per cent.”
Election materials not supplied to most polling unitsin A-Ibom
Speaking on the rigging method used in Akwa Ibom State, Mohammed said election materials were not supplied to most of the polling units in the state.
He said: “In former Governor Victor Attah’s ward in Ibesikpo Asutan, three contiguous polling units did not receive election materials while most of the polling units in Oruk Anam, which is the home local government area of Atuekong Etiebet and Chief Soni Udom, Director-General of the APC Governorship Campaign Organisation, most of the polling units did not receive election materials.
“In areas where polling materials were received, hordes of deadly armed thugs escorted by men in Nigeria Police and Army uniforms stormed the polling units and carted away the election materials midway into the accreditation process.”
Killings in A-Ibom
According to him several cases of ballot snatching were reported in the state in the course of which, according to him, several members of the APC, who were seen as being in the way of the alleged PDP thugs, were killed.
According to him, the killing of an APC member in Ini Local Government Area was acknowledged by the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mr. Adisa Bolanta, who was in charge of elections in the state.
He thus called on democracy enthusiasts and civil society organisations to join APC in calling for the outright cancellation of what he described as phoney elections conducted in Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Abia states.
INEC, security operatives manipulated polls in favour of APC —PDP
The PDP in its retort also accused the APC of collaborating with INEC and security agencies to rig the elections across the country.
The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, flayed INEC and security officials of having succumbed to the intimidating propaganda of the APC.
According to the party, “evidences abound of widespread irregularities across the country with INEC rejecting results from the strongholds of PDP candidates for no just cause while accepting the figures those of the APC.
“In Lagos, Adamawa, Plateau, Benue, Kwara, Ogun, Oyo, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Niger, Yobe, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi and Imo states, there are proofs of electoral manipulations ranging from under-age voting, ballot stuffing and intimidation of PDP supporters to alteration of some aspects of the process in favour of APC.
“In Abia State, but for the outcry of the people and timely intervention of the INEC headquarters which rejected the illegal cancellation of results from three local governments and strongholds of the PDP by the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, even after they have been announced by the returning officers, the PDP would have been robbed of its well deserved victory in those areas.
“As a responsible party committed to national unity and democracy, our members have remained peaceful and orderly; our candidates have been conceding defeat in the interest of peace while we elect to channel our protest to the appropriate quarters. The same has not been seen of the APC, which has unleashed its members to cause mayhem and harass our supporters in states where PDP candidates clearly won, such as Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Ondo, Rivers and Gombe states.
“While we urge INEC to take disciplinary actions against its erring officials, we strongly call to question the sincerity of some of the observers especially regarding their failure to raise issues on the irregularities that characterized the voting pattern in most of the states where APC candidates have been declared winner.
“Finally, we invite Nigerians and the international community to note the emerging dangerous trend in our country. There are rising concerns that the APC may have commenced a systematic destruction of democratic institutions and culture, which the PDP successfully nurtured in the last 16 years. Indeed, we wonder if there is a deliberate attempt to also erode the discipline and professionalism of our security forces and entrench the culture of impunity our society.”
The party, however, urged the citizens not to despair but to brace up and resist all anti-democratic and dictatorial tendencies, noting that it is repositioning to stand by the people by providing a credible opposition and returning to power in four years.
CSOs urge Jega to probe Abia, A-Ibom, Rivers results
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Civil Society Room, yesterday, urged INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, to clinically scrutinise the final collated results from Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia states.
The coalition which monitored governorship and atate Assembly elections across the federation further decried what it termed as “weak oversight powers of the national headquarters of INEC over Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs.”
It urged the INEC boss to specifically pay closer attention to results from the three aforementioned states, insisting that there were “good grounds to question the credibility of the election results in both Rivers and Akwa Ibom states. A country cannot afford to have state level elections held as it has been done in these three states.”
Consequently, the CSOs, implored Professor Jega to take steps towards ensuring that the final results returned from the three states were cross-checked with the total number of accredited voters as captured by the Smart Card Reader Machines.
“The machines must be preserved, evidence extracted from them and juxtaposed with the final results”, the observer groups maintained.
The coalition in a statement read by the Executive Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy Center, PLAC, Mr. Clement Nwankwo said: “In our view, INEC should concern itself with possible negative public perception of the elections in the three states, as a way of strengthening the trust of the electorate in the voting process.
“The Situation Room also notes and condemns in the strongest terms the leading role played by prominent public political office holders and other politicians as well as some INEC officials in encouraging and actively taking part in organised misconduct and disorderly behaviour that violated the sanctity of the electoral process and calls that action be taken to investigate their activities with a view to prosecuting and sanctioning them, if found culpable under the law.
Weak oversight powers of INEC over RECs
“In addition, Situation Room is concerned about the weak oversight powers of the national headquarters of INEC over Resident Electoral Commissioners and State INEC offices in the management and conduct of elections. This makes it easy for compromised RECs and other state level INEC officers to undermine the credibility of the election sometimes with reckless impunity.”
While noting several cases of infraction of the electoral law across the country, the coalition observed “Cases of election-related violence in Akwa Ibom (18), Abia (nine), Anambra (seven), Delta (nine), Imo (six), Rivers (16), Benue (six), Katsina (17), Sokoto (17) and Kano State (seven). Killings in Rivers State where seven people (including a police officer) were killed as well as in Akwa Ibom (three), Delta (two), Katsina (two).
“In Rivers State, historically deep-rooted political animosities played out in a brazen, violent and naked manner to subvert the electoral process in many local governments in the state. In Akwa Ibom, there were also serious questions about the veracity of the results because of reports of active and direct partisan interference with the elections. There are also concerns about Abia State, which recorded multiple cases of electoral misconduct.
“The Situation Room hereby calls on INEC to urgently take steps to clinically scrutinise the final collated results from these states (Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia) against the polling unit results and make a reasoned judgment about them.”
There was increase in security threats—EU EOM
The European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) echoed the observations of the domestic observers as it identified Rivers and Akwa Ibom States as areas where violence and deliberate interference with the electoral process were most pronounced during the governorship and House of Assembly elections.
The position of the EU is contained in the second preliminary report released by the international body in Abuja, yesterday, by the European Union Election Observation Chief Observer, Santiago Fisas.
The mission noted with concern that there was an increase in security threats during the last election than the previous presidential election, resulting in the killing of no fewer than 30 persons.
The mission said that although it did not find evidence of centralised systematic manipulation, the results from Rivers State included what it called “highly implausible data” while other election monitors had doubts about the data posted from other states in the South-South. They did not, however, name the other states.
The mission said that collation was the weakest part of the election day process particularly at the ward level. The EU also accused the PDP and the APC of misuse of incumbency power during the elections.
The Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) in its observation called for the harmonisation of the accreditation and voting processes. The President of CCN, His Eminence Emmanuel Udofia, who gave the organisation’s perspective on the election also lamented the low voter turnout.
Inconclusive polls in Imo
Meanwhile, the victory dance of Governor Rochas Okorocha in the Imo State governorship election was cut short early yesterday, when the poll was declared “inconclusive” by INEC.
The State Returning Officer, SRO, Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, cited the cancellation of 144,715 votes in various polling booths in about 23 local government areas for the action.
Professor Ibidapo-Obe also cited various complaints of irregularities that emanated from several polling booths across the 305 wards of the state.
He said elections would be repeated in four out of the 27 local council areas of the state. He, however, did not give the date of the rescheduled poll.
He identified Owerri Municipal, Ideato South, Ideato North and Ahiazu Mbaise as the four local government areas that would not be subjected to another round of voting.
After announcing results submitted to him, the SRO had said: “I shall not do any declaration. We have various cancellations in various units and wards. The affected polling units in the local governments totalled 144,715. The margin of lead that we calculated from the two leading parties is 79,529, and because of this figure, this election is inconclusive.”
While Governor Okorocha said he was prepared to go for supplementary election, the state leadership of the PDP, accused INEC of reducing the scores of its flag bearer, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, in the result collated and declared at Ezinihitte Mbaise.
“In the case of Oru East local government area, while stakeholders were anxiously expecting the result, the INEC-EO, Mrs. Emmanuella Opara publicly confessed that she was kidnapped and taken to a secret location by agents of the APC candidate, where she was forced at gunpoint to enter fictitious figures. We hope to reconcile with INEC, areas affected by the irregularities and seek appropriate redress”, the State PDP Chairman, Chief Nnamdi Anyaehie said.
While saying that it was time wasting to declare the election inconclusive, Okorocha, however, boasted “if the election is properly conducted, my opponent will not get up to 100,000 votes.”
Vanguard recalls that the same scenario played out during the Chief Ikedi Ohakim era, and it was the supplementary election that sacked the incumbent governor and installed Okorocha.
Taraba, Abia elections inconclusive
The governorship election in Abia State which had the PDP candidate, Okeize Ikpeazu and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA candidate, Alex Otti, in contention for supremacy was also declared inconclusive by the Returning Officer, Prof. Benjamin Ozurumba.
According to him, the margin of lead between the APC candidate, Okorocha and Ihedioha of the PDP was not higher than the number of votes cancelled or where the election did not hold.
The governorship election in Taraba State was also declared inconclusive by the returning officer, Prof. Muhammadu Kyari.
The returning officer made the declaration in Jalingo, the state capital after collating results from the 16 local government areas of the state.
He said the reason for the declaration was because the number of cancelled votes was above the gap between APC, who came second in the election to PDP who came first.
The tension, meanwhile, spurred violence across some sections of the state yesterday.
Vanguard gathered that the house of the Secretary to Taraba State Government in Gyembu, Sardauna local government was burnt down.
The country home of Abel Diah, the member representing Mbamga state constituency was also razed down by some angry youths who attempted to snatch the election materials from the collation centre of the area.
It was also learnt that two persons were killed in Rankaviri, the headquarters of Ardo-Kola local government area.
NNN.COM.NG is a portal where you can read latest Nigeria News from all Nigeria Newspapers such as such as Punch, Vangaurd, Daily Times, Thisday, Guardian, Nation, Leadership and more in one place. NNN aggregates Naija News and sort them according to their sources, category and relevance as a way of reducing the effort a news reader needs to put in to reading breaking news in Nigeria and across the world.