Saturday, March 30, 2019 7:32 pm
..AAC storms out of INEC stakeholders meeting in Port Harcourt.
Okafor Ifiebor/ Port Harcourt
The ongoing stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to resume votes count for the March 9 Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in Rivers State has suffered major hiccup following a walk-out by the presumed winner of the governorship election, Biokpomabo Awara, of the African Action Congress, AAC.
The meeting, ongoing at the OMNI Event Centre, Eastern By-Pass, Port Harcourt, which also has in attendance Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, agreed that collation of the results which INEC had suspended since Sunday, March 10, 2019 would resume as outlined by the Commission.
Awara, who attended the meeting accompanied by AAC members and members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who aided his meteoric rise in the governorship race, alleged that the results have already been compromised by the electoral body.
Awara complained that some stakeholders were not given opportunity ask salient questions during meeting.
He also queried the fact the property where the meeting was held is owned by a stunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP.
However, Awara later returned to the venue thereafter.
However, addressing the stakeholders meeting on the resumption of electoral activities for the completion of outstanding 2019 General Elections in Rivers State on Saturday, INEC National Commissioner supervising Bayelsa, Edo and Rivers State, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu said that the Collation will be carried out transparently.
She said: “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 “.
The INEC National Commissioner said though they don’t know the winners of the elections, all the results are intact in INEC custody.
“I can tell you for free that we don’t know the winners”.
She said that INEC will religiously follow the timelines outlined by the commission for the Governorship Election Collation of results.
The 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 shall conduct the process with transparency.
He said political parties will be given the opportunity to comment on the process, but nobody would be allowed to disrupt the Collation Process.
He stated that those entitled to be at the Collation Centre include: 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.
INEC also announced the 17 Local Government Areas where it has collated results for the Rivers State Governorship Election.
Administrative Secretary of INEC, Rivers State, Elder Etim Umoh listed the Local Government Areas to include: Ahoada East, Bonny, Akuku-Toru, Obio/Akpor, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Omuma, Port Harcourt, Ikwerre, Emohua, Tai, Opobo-Nkoro, Andoni ,Eleme, Etche, Ogu–Bolo, Oyigbo, Okrika.
He stated that the Local Government Areas where Collation have not been concluded include: Khana, Asari-Toru, Degema, Ahoada West, Abua/Odual and Gokana.
Speaking at the Stakeholders Meeting, Governor Wike blamed the Nigerian Army for the violence witnessed during the collation of the results.
He said that Rivers people raised alarm over the plot to unleash violence in the state, but they were accused of always crying.
“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 this last elections “.
While declaring that Rivers State has always been peaceful, except during elections when security agencies act negatively, Governor Wike stated that the Nigerian Army should remove their hands from election matters.
He stated that the security personnel for the Governorship Election Collation should be made public to avoid illegal actions during the process.
Former President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogonis, Ledum Mitee urged INEC to publish the names of all security personnel that would man the Collation Centre for transparency and accountability.
Rivers State Candidate of the AAC, Mr Biokpomabo Awara demanded to know who has the custody of the collated results.
He said the results ought to have been kept at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Immediate Past Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, Rivers State, Pastor Samuel Ihunwo said all results must 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.