INEC Boss Speaks On Violence During Elections As Collation Of Results Begin Today
Collation and announcement of results of Saturday’s elections will begin today. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof Mahmood Yakubu opened the collation centre at about 6pm yesterday.
Yakubu adjourned sitting till 11am today after setting the ground rules.
It was the last step in the conduct of the presidential election. The collation and announcement of results are expected to start today, with results coming from INEC offices from the 38 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
All the agents of registered political parties were represented at the opening of the centre.
The two leading political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – were represented by Col. Hammed Ali for the ruling APC and Dr. Usman Bugaje for the PDP.
According to Prof. Yakubu, the INEC office in Ekiti State, which became the first state to have completed the collation of the presidential election result, will make its presentation.
Yakubu said the collation officer for Ekiti State was on his way toAbuja.
The INEC chair said there was no cancellation of elections in any part of the country.
The country went to polls on Saturday to vote in the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Briefing reporters on the conduct of the elections, Yakubu said: “Collation of results from yesterday’s elections continues nationwide. Almost all the states have concluded RA collation and are now collating results at LGA level. Some have commenced state-level collation.
“We expect the State Collation Officers for Presidential Election (SCOPE) to start arriving at the National Collation Centre later today or early morning tomorrow. Accordingly, the National Collation Centre will be officially declared open today at 6pm. Collation will commence as soon as the results arrive from the states.”
The INEC chief also reiterated that nobody, except the commission, has the right by the law to declare election results. He cautioned all stakeholders to be circumspect in this regard.
Yakubu said: “Already, some PU results are in the public domain. Let me once again reiterate the position of the law that only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can tally figures, announce results and declare winners in our general election.
“I urge all stakeholders to strictly adhere to the provisions of the law and be circumspect in this respect. We are doing everything possible to ensure the speedy collation of results and the declaration of winners for the elections conducted yesterday.”
The commission has handed over an Electoral Officer (EO) in Imo State to the security agencies over some infractions.
Yakubu, who did not say much about the offence the electoral officer committed, however, noted that the police would investigate the officer.
He said: “For our part, all election duty personnel have sworn to an oath of neutrality. We have reports of possible dereliction of duty by some electoral officials in refusing to activate or deploy the SCRs, the failure to fully account for materials collected for the election, absconding from duty and a host of other infractions.
“In Imo State, one of our EOs has already been handed over to the police. We will not tolerate violations against, or by, our own officials. The duty of upholding the choice made by Nigerians in democratic elections must never be compromised.”
On the conduct of the elections, Yakubu noted that the Commission was happy with the peaceful polls.
He said: “The Commission is happy with the general peaceful and patriotic conduct of citizens. Elections are all about the people and, once again, Nigerians have demonstrated extra-ordinary resilience and abiding faith in democracy and the electoral process. We wish to reiterate our commitment to protecting the sanctity of the ballot and the integrity of the choices made by Nigerians at the polls.”
Yakubu admitted that there were some challenges, which he said necessitated the extension of closing period.
He, however, stressed the determination of the commission, under his watch, to ensure that every vote counts.
“We are determined that the vote of every Nigerian is important and must count,” Yakubu stressed.
On the outbreak of violence, Yakubu said the commission received some reports and was closely monitoring the situation in Rivers, Imo, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Kogi and Osun states.
He said: “We have received preliminary reports and are closely monitoring the situation in Rivers, particularly Bonny and Akoku-Toru local government areas. We are similarly awaiting the detailed report from our Imo office particularly in respect of the Owerri Municipal Local Government.
“We are also aware of the incidents in some parts of Lagos, particularly Okota. We are similarly aware of the incidence of intimidation, abduction, hostage-taking and violence unleashed on election officials in some states, notably Akwa Ibom, and the burning down of a vehicle conveying materials used for the election yesterday in Dekina Local Government of Kogi State. Some Youth Corps members serving as ad hoc staff were also attacked in Osun State.”
Yakubu announced that the commission recorded its first casualty in the course of the Saturday elections.
He said a member of the ad hoc staff in Rivers, Ibisiki Amachree, was hit by a stray bullet during the outbreak of violence on Saturday.
The INEC chair said: “While in all these attacks, election staff sustained injuries, we have, unfortunately, recorded the first fatality in Rivers State. An ad hoc staff, Mrs. Ibisaki Amachree, was hit by a bullet while returning from election duty in Degema.
“We condemn these attacks and will forward a comprehensive report to the security agencies for expeditious investigation and prosecution of those involved.”
The INEC chief regretted the ommission of the logo of the African Action Congress (AAC) from the ballot paper for the Lagos East Senatorial District.
“We have checked our record and confirmed the inadvertent omission. We have contacted the Chairman of the party to acknowledge the error. The omission is inadvertent and it is one out of 23,316 nominations for elections into 1,558 constituencies,” Yakubu said.