Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Sam Oyadongha, Jimitota Onoyume, Festus Ahon, Egufe Yafugborhi, Emmanuel Una, Harris-Okon Emmanuel, Ike Uchechukwu, Chioma Onuegbu, Davies Iheamnachor and Perez Brisibe
THE Unbiased Nationwide Electoral Fee, INEC, got here underneath overpowering stress within the March 9 Governorship and Home of Meeting elections within the South-South with armed safety personnel and thugs in army uniforms working for politicians taking a few of its officers hostage, however the Fee rose above the dictates of heavyweight politicians and their events that needed to arm-twist it.
Officers wakened from slumber in Rivers
In Rivers state, it seems the sport plan by an influential chieftain of a political celebration was for the election to be indecisive to show the governor, Nyesom Wike, a bitter lesson in a consequent election.
Wike knew concerning the plan and made back-up preparations. In all, the politicians nearly put INEC in Rivers state in a quandary, nevertheless it cleverly wriggled out by suspending the voting course of to save lots of its face.
It’s but to be decided if PDP intentionally influenced listing of the INEC advert hoc employees for the election, however over eight returning officers, SPOs and EOs for the election had been recognized as card- carrying members of the PDP.
APC additionally had some superior plans, which PDP tried to upturn with INEC officers believed to be PDP members refusing the previous’s manipulations of votes in favour of nameless AAC’s candidate.
It appeared as if the sport was over when males in army uniform, final Saturday afternoon, took over the INEC headquarters in Port Harcourt after an encounter with law enforcement officials drafted there.
There isn’t a doubt that APC and PDP had been concerned in unwholesome acts resulting in INEC’s suspension of the train in Rivers.
INEC in lastly taking cost and suspending the train, pointed at evident irregularities and its solely redeeming characteristic was the suspension. The electoral company remained headstrong in concluding the collation and announcement of the outcomes.
Nervous over widespread violence and intimidation of officers, following earlier warning to not take kindly to irregularities, particularly risk to lives of its officers, it declined to accede to biddings of political principalities.
The nationwide physique, following the event, despatched a fact-finding delegation to the state to determine the rationale officers suspended the method within the state.
The delegation, which had accomplished its task within the state, has since Tuesday, returned to Abuja to submit its findings to the electoral umpire.
Delta INEC in cost, gave no room for appeasement
Nevertheless, underneath a free and truthful contest, Wike actually has no rival within the elections, however APC, even in self-destruct, is hell bent on paying him again over his perceived hijack of the method when “federal might” was to his favour in 2015.
Like in Rivers, INEC had drawback in Delta state, however not when it comes to politicians compromising the system. The Resident Electoral Commissioner within the state, Mr. Cyril Omoregbe, gave no room for politicians to get to him, not to mention discovering the center floor with him. He rejected courtesy go to by politicians and declined to entertain highly effective politicians who sought to satisfy him earlier than the elections.
The problem it had was automobiles and boats for motion of supplies on Election Day. There was a specific case the place INEC officers needed to depend on the car of a union to maneuver its personnel to a centre in Warri.
There have been additionally circumstances of mix- up of electoral supplies. In some conditions, officers introduced supplies meant for some items to a different unit in Warri. This delayed graduation of voting as INEC officers needed to take time to type out the combination up earlier than voting might start within the affected items.
The Fee was, nevertheless, in command of the method, neither the PDP nor APC might infiltrate the system.
Igini places A’Ibom on high
Akwa Ibom state is among the many few states within the nation the place the 2019 normal elections held on February 23 and March 09 2019 respectively had been adjudged most peaceable, credible and truthful.
Many attribute the achievement to the neutrality and transparency displayed by INEC led by Mr. Mike Igini, the Resident Electoral Commissioner.
Little question, there have been reported circumstances the place determined politicians used thugs allegedly employed outdoors the state to intimidate and harass INEC ad-hoc employees, electoral officers, and collation officers at some polling items and carted away election supplies, together with card readers.
For example on the eve of the cancelled presidential and nationwide meeting polls, hoodlums suspected to be political thugs set ablaze 13 buses employed by INEC for the elections, whereas police confirmed that one unidentified individual was killed within the incident.
Additionally on Friday, March 8, about 3:00 am, hoodlums set ablaze the INEC workplace in Ibesikpo Asutan resulting in the destruction of card readers, and voter’s register.
INEC officers had stated that these behind the heinous act had focused the shop considering that the delicate supplies had been already there.
Nevertheless, the fee didn’t waste time in changing card readers and reprinting of the voter’s register, which made it potential for election to carry within the space.
The REC, Mike Igini, has continued to obtain commendations from the residents, involved Akwa Ibom residents, spiritual teams, civil society teams, in addition to home and worldwide observers.
Akwa Ibom residents had been significantly impressed with the braveness of the REC to refuse all of the antics of some politicians to disrupt the train
The truth is, the state chapter of Inter-Social gathering Advisory Council, IPAC, kicked towards infinite calls and protests by APC stakeholders and supporters, demanding the removing of Mike Igini, as a result of it smelt sinister motive.
Forward of the presidential and nationwide meeting ballot, IPAC had said, “We are in the know that yesterday’s paid protest led by some known APC stakeholders was an attempt to blackmail the electoral umpire for refusing their advances to rig the polls in their favour.”
‘The APC just like other parties should be glad that there is an umpire in Igini’s mould who’s dedicated to making sure credible, free, truthful election by searching for methods of multiplying such status within the fee.
Equally, in a swift response on Tuesday, IPAC expressed dismay over allegation by APC chieftains (Nsima Ekere, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Atuekong Don Etiebet), that Igini colluded with PDP to rig the presidential/NASS and the gubernatorial/state meeting polls.
It stated, “We feel proud that in our lifetime, a credible people-centred election was held and the voices of the people and their votes mattered. Mike Igini deserves our praise and gratitude for standing up to what is right and ideal. He refused to be compromised and stood his ground on doing only what is right and noble.”
Additionally in its report after the governorship and state meeting elections, Pan-African Ladies Group, a South Africa group, stated, “We commend the transparency and credibility exhibited by INEC here in Akwa Ibom state during the presidential/National Assembly polls and the governorship and state Assembly polls”
In some items within the state, there have been stories of harassment and use of thugs to harass, overpower electoral officers, particularly the NYSC members and so they carted away electoral supplies. Nevertheless, elections had been cancelled in items and wards that recorded circumstances of electoral malpractices, starting from over voting and carting away of electoral supplies by thugs assisted by politicians.
For example, the Eket election was cancelled in a single unit, in Mbo, election was cancelled in three items and in Ini native authorities, election was cancelled in two items. Additionally within the governorship and state Home of Meeting elections, outcomes had been recorded solely in two out of 11 wards in Essien Udim native authorities space, whereas election was cancelled within the 9 wards on account of electoral malpractice.
Akwa Ibom state has 329 wards and a pair of,980 polling items. One other space that the INEC carried out nicely was its skill to switch, on the final minute, all of the electoral officers deployed to the polls after studying that politicians had closely bribed them.
INEC prone in Bayelsa
In Bayelsa, it was an train through which the electoral umpire, INEC, was helpless, as troopers, who ordinarily, haven’t any enterprise with elections had been was a “ruthless” rigging machine of the central ruling celebration, the All Progressive Congress, APC.
Within the presidential and nationwide meeting elections, troopers guarded areas the place APC leaders held sway. Shootings from political thugs, aided by the army began even earlier than the graduation of the polls in some coastal communities.
This, in keeping with our findings was as a result of they needed electoral supplies hijacked. Nembe Bassambiri, Brass and Southern Ijaw witnessed the undemocratic acts.
At Bassambiri, some individuals kidnapped NYSC members, who had been INEC ad-hoc employees and outcomes had been cooked up. Whereas the main Individuals’s Democratic Social gathering, PDP, raised alarm over the electoral fraud, the electoral umpire appeared away.
At Brass, the state of affairs was worse as thugs manhandled a senior police officer within the full glare of reporters although police arrested some culprits.
This state of affairs additionally performed out in Southern Ijaw IV in Southern Ijaw native authorities space and Agbere in Sagbama council space, the place suspected thugs aided by troopers overwhelmed INEC officers and hijacked supplies.
Surprisingly, INEC introduced outcomes for the presidential and nationwide meeting polls, regardless of the alleged violence in some wards and items within the space. The truth is, the fee itself claimed that rampaging thugs carted away 63 of its card readers in the course of the February 23 polls.
The theft of the cardboard readers, an important a part of the electoral course of, in keeping with INEC, occurred in Brass, Sagbama, Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Yenagoa
A breakdown of the stolen playing cards as introduced by the fee, confirmed that in Brass, ward 6 ,unit 19, one Sensible Card Reader was lacking; 24 disappeared in Nembe, ward 1, 4, 12 and 13 whereas 24 additionally bought lacking in Southern-Ijaw, ward 1, 2, 3, 12, 15. Eight had been lacking in Sagbama ward 1 unit 5 and ward 6 unit3 whereas in Yenagoa, a complete of 6 additionally missed in ward 1, 11 and 16 respectively.”
Thugs hijacked the ballots on account of safety challenges confronted by INEC personnel within the affected areas. The result of the polls within the affected areas sparked off accusations and counter accusations from the ruling PDP and the opposition APC.
The Coalition of United Political Events, CUPP, and Inter-Social gathering Advisory Council, IPAC within the state referred to as for the quick redeployment of the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Pastor Tom Udoh earlier than the March 9 polls.
In response to the aggrieved events, the REC might conduct free, truthful and credible elections for the state Home of Meeting on account of what occurred in the course of the presidential and nationwide meeting polls.
CUPP expressed unhappiness that underneath his watch, the presidential and nationwide meeting polls had been fraught with irregularities as elections supplies had been hijacked and carted away by rampaging thugs backed by troopers.
“The law stipulates that card readers must be used during the elections, but where card readers were carted away and elections did not take place, results were announced,” the group famous.
Nevertheless, the March 9 train noticed some enchancment when it comes to logistics and firmness on the a part of the fee.
Similar to the presidential and nationwide meeting polls, the state meeting elections witnessed large army presence throughout the state.
The REC additionally took out time and went to the sphere to watch the method in some communities that may very well be accessed by street. Nonetheless, there have been reported circumstances of electoral violence and different irregularities in some components of the state, a improvement answerable for the inconclusive polls in three constituencies specifically Brass I, Ogbia II and Southern Ijaw IV.