Against the backdrop of the recent suspension of the 2019 governorship election in Rivers State, halfway through the process, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Saturday in Port Harcourt that no fresh elections would be held in the state. Rather, INEC said there will be a process to complete the election, which was suspended on March 10 following violence at some collation centres.
INEC National Commissioner supervising Bayelsa, Edo and Rivers states, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, made the clarification while addressing stakeholders as part of the process for the completion of the election.
Agbamuche-Mbu said results of the governorship election in 17 of the 23 local government areas of the state were safe in the strong room of the commission in Abuja.
That was as Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and other stakeholders restated their criticism of the Nigerian Army for allegedly disrupting the collation of results after the March 9 governorship and House of Assembly polls in the state.
But a faction of the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state said yesterday it would have nothing to do with the processes for the conclusion of the governorship poll until litigations on the matter were finally determined.
Addressing the stakeholders, Agbamuche-Mbu said the commission would conclude the collation of the Rivers State governorship election between April 2 and 5, adding that the process will be transparent.
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 the commission did not know the winners of the elections, all the results were intact in INEC’s custody. She also said INEC would religiously follow the timelines outlined by it for the collation of the governorship election results.
Head of Legal Department, INEC Rivers State, Don Umealor, outlined the supplementary regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections.
Umealor assured that all INEC staff involved in the collation of results would conduct the process with transparency. He said political parties will be given the opportunity to comment on the process, but nobody will be allowed to disrupt the collation process.
Umealor also listed those entitled to be at the collation centres to include collation and returning officers, INEC personnel, one polling agent per party or candidate, approved security officials, accredited observers, accredited journalists, and any other person or organisation approved by INEC.
The commission announced the 17 local government areas where it had collated results for the Rivers State governorship election. Administrative Secretary of INEC, Rivers State, Elder Etim Umoh, said the local government areas were Ahoada East, Bonny, Akuku-Toru, Obio/Akpor, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Omuma, Port Harcourt, Ikwerre, Emohua, Tai, Opobo-Nkoro, Andoni ,Eleme, Etche, Ogu–Bolo, Oyigbo, and Okrika.
Umoh stated that the local government areas where collation had not been concluded were Khana, Asari-Toru, Degema, Ahoada West, Abua/Odual, and Gokana.
He said elections did not hold in Abua/Odual at all as materials were not dispatched to the area because of violence.
In the case of Khana, he stated that materials were dispatched to polling units but none was returned also due to violence.
In the other affected local government areas, elections took place and results were announced at some polling units before the suspension of the process.