Rivers Elections: INEC Weighs Four Options Today
DECLARE RESULTS, THAT'S THE BEST OPTION. OTHERWISE HOW DID ASSEMBLY MEMBERS GET ELECTED?
•APC, PDP set for make-up poll in six states
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the African Action Congress (AAC), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other parties will today know their fate on the stalemated governorship poll in Rivers State.
The Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) has summoned a meeting of its management to receive and consider the report of a fact-finding team it sent to the Southsouth state.
The electoral body may receive also the report on its investigation into the disruption of the poll in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
But top on the list of issues before INEC, as at last night, is the suspended election in Rivers State.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The panel on Rivers State will on Friday submit its report to INEC management. Thereafter, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and his team will consider the findings and make a pronouncement.
“We are aware of the interest which the suspension of the elections in Rivers State has generated and we want to resolve it as soon as possible.”
There are four options before INEC, The Nation has learnt. They are:
whether or not to cancel the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State;
Restricted conduct of elections only in units, wards or areas affected by violence.
Announcement of collated or retrieved results if the security situation does not permit a fresh poll;
declaring the results as it were and leaving the aggrieved to go to the tribunal.
According to the source, any delay in taking a decision may lead to a constitutional crisis in the state.
“INEC will be fair, just, equitable and it will be guided by the Electoral Act, 2010( as amended) in its decision on Rivers State.
“The panel has concluded its assignment. Were it not for the issuance of Certificates of Return to senators and Representatives-elect, we would have considered the report on Rivers on Thursday (yesterday).”
A statement last Sunday by INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, said: “The commission has decided to suspend all electoral processes in Rivers State until further notice.
“This is in line with Section 26 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Clause 47(e) of the regulations and guidelines of the commission.”
As at press time, it was gathered that the team which investigated the disruption of the collation and cancellation of results in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State had concluded its assignment.
“We will look at the findings of this committee to guide the conduct of supplementary elections in the state on March 23,” the source said.
The two leading parties – APC and PDP – have started preparations for the make-up poll ordered in six states on March 23.
The national leadership of the PDP said yesterday that the party was set for the supplementary poll in states where the elections were declared inconclusive.
The states are: Kano, Bauchi, Benue, Sokoto, Adamawa and Plateau.
Rising from an emergency National Working Committee (NWC) meeting in Abuja yesterday, the party should demanded that INEC release the results of the elections in those states and make returns as appropriate.
In a statement after the emergency meeting, PDP spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan insisted that the party was in clear lead in the states where the poll was declared inconclusive.
He accused INEC Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu of bias, citing “the results of the governorship election in Ogun State where the APC candidate was declared winner even when the margin of lead between him and the runner up was lower than the number of cancelled votes”.
The main opposition party regretted that INEC denied victory for PDP governorship candidates who found themselves in similar circumstances in the affected states.
The statement reads: “The PDP found it strange that INEC can have two sets of rules in the same election for the various political parties.
“More worrisome is the resolution which arose from a meeting between some governors of the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari, where the PDP has been informed that a decision was taken to seize Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, Sokoto and Kano states in the March 23 scheduled supplementary election.”
The PDP said it had deliberated and interfaced with stakeholders from the various states where governorship supplementary elections have been scheduled to hold.
It added that following the deliberations, the party had mandated all its members to resist any attempt by anybody to tamper with the will of the people in their states.
The PDP said it was sure of victory in the affected states.
In Kano, a non-governmental organisation under the auspices of Kano State Civil Society Situation Room has filed a petition against the government over alleged attempt to buy votes ahead of the March 23 poll.
The co-convener of the petition comrade Abdulrazaq Alkali told reporters shortly after submitting the petition to the zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Kano, that his group was aware of the anti-graft agency’s efforts at curbing vote buying.
Alkali explained that the petition was filed to draw EFCC’s attention to alleged withdrawal from the state’s treasury.
He urged the commission to investigate his group’s allegation.
The Commissioner for Local Government, Alhaji Murtala Sule Garo, described the petition as baseless.
Garo explained that the money withdrawn by the government was released to 13 councils out of which five were not among the local governments where the extra polls will take place.
“The funds released on the 12th of March were meant for executing government developmental projects,” the commissioner explained.
Ahead of the make-up poll, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Elders Council has called for more security personnel to curtail violence.
The council said: “From reports available, there is a plan to disrupt the re-run, especially in APC strongholds.”
The council’s spokesman, Chief Terlumun Akputu, told reporters in Makurdi that security should be strengthened to stamp out vote buying and intimidation.
Akputu advised INEC to insist on the use of the Electronic Card Readers (ECRs) before accepting any result from polling units.
“There is where in Nigeria that APC recorded zero votes, except In Guma Local Government Area despite having candidates and agents which he said were chased out of the polling units,” the council said.
The Katagum Youth for Change (KYC) yesterday cautioned House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara against creating a crisis in the state.
It urged the Speaker and the PDP to stop misleading Nigerians on the political situation in the state.
KYC Chairman Mustapha Aleh spoke in Abuja against the backdrop of the eruption of violence in Bauchi after the governorship poll was declared inconclusive.
He said: “It is obvious that Bauchi erupted into violence after a briefing by the Speaker and PDP leaders in the state.
“We wish to warn Dogara and PDP against introducing a dangerous dimension to the politics of the state because of the desperation to make a cheap political point.
“The impression of lack of perfornance by Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar that Dogara and his gang of PDP desperados try to create is false, unfounded and should be disregarded.”