The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that it would conclude the collation of the Rivers state governorship election between April 2 and 5 as scheduled.
The commission said this at a stakeholders’ meeting on the resumption of electoral activities for the completion of outstanding 2019 elections in the state on Saturday.
According to INEC’s national commissioner supervising Bayelsa, Edo and Rivers states, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu, the collation would be carried out transparently.
“All the results are with us in our strong room. They have not been tampered with. We are going to conduct the collation transparently.
“INEC is here to complete this process and we shall complete the process successfully”, she said adding that though they didn’t know the winners of the elections, all the results were intact in INEC custody.
She said INEC would religiously follow the timelines outlined by the commission for the governorship election collation of results.
INEC Rivers state Head of Department, Legal, Mr Don Umealor, outlined the supplementary regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections.
He said all INEC staff involved in the collation of results would conduct the process with transparency, adding that political parties would be given the opportunity to comment on the process, but that nobody would be allowed to disrupt it.
He stated that those entitled to be at the collation centre included collation and returning officers, INEC personnel, one polling agent per party or candidate, approved security officials, properly accredited observers, properly accredited media persons and any other person or organisation approved by INEC.
The commission also announced the 17 local government areas where it has collated results for the governorship election.
INEC’s administrative secretary in Rivers state, Elder Etim Umoh, listed them to include: Ahoada east, Bonny, Akuku-Toru, Obio/Akpor, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Omuma, Port Harcourt, Ikwerre and Emohua.
Others are Tai, Opobo-Nkoro, Andoni, Eleme, Etche, Ogu-Bolo, Oyigbo and Okrika.
He stated that the local government areas where collation had not been concluded included Khana, Asari-Toru, Degema, Ahoada West, Abua/Odual and Gokana.
Speaking at the meeting, the state governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, blamed the Nigerian Army for the violence witnessed during the collation of results. He said that Rivers people raised the alarm over plot to unleash violence on the state, but they were accused of always crying wolf where there was none.
“The only way you can have peaceful election is when the security agencies refuse to manipulate the elections. The Army snatched results and when the people resisted them, the Army killed them. The violence was at the point of collation.
“Throughout my political career, I have never seen the kind of role the Army played. What has happened to the police officer indicted for manhandling of INEC staff during the rerun in 2016? The same officer played negative roles in these last elections,” he claimed.
He said Rivers state had always been peaceful, except during elections and when security agencies acted negatively. But Wike advised that the Nigerian Army should remove their hands from election matters.
He stated that the security personnel for the collation should be made public to avoid illegal actions during the process.
Former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr Ledum Mitee, also urged INEC to publish the names of all security personnel that would man the collation centre for transparency and accountability.
The AAC governorship candidate, Mr Biokpomabo Awara, demanded to know who had the custody of the collated results. He said the results ought to have been kept at the Central Bank of Nigeria. Awara later walked out of the meeting.
Immediate past chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in the state, Pastor Samuel Ihunwo, said all results ought to emanate from the polling units.
“We plead that soldiers should remain at the barracks. All those causing mayhem cannot produce results of 10 polling units where they won,” he said.