Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the cancellation of the legislative polls in Bonny and Akokutolo Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Rivers State, over the inability of the commission to deploy electoral materials in those areas.
National Commissioner and chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said that though the commission has received reports about violence, burning and snatching of ballot papers and boxes in Anambra, Lagos and other states, the commission will deliberate on the reports from the Residents Electoral Commissioners and other officers in the affected states before taking decision.
Okoye said: “As at this moment, INEC is generally satisfied with the process and procedure of the conduct of this general election notwithstanding the challenges relating to the commencement of voting in some polling units.
“Between 8am to 10am, the summary of polling units that opened stood at 67.91 per cent. The polling units that opened after10am stood at 16.96 per cent. At this moment, we recorded a total of 92.76 per cent of polling units that opened. With regards to challenges associated with the smart card readers in some polling units, most of them were resolved and resolved on time.
“However, it is to be noted that in regulation and guidelines issued by INEC, it was made very clear that the use of SCRs is mandatory. Therefore no staff of the commission or the ad hoc staff is permitted under whatever guise to deliberately refuse to use the SCRs for the conduct of the election.
“The commission has also received the report of violence and ballot box snatching in some areas leading to the disruption of the process. We have asked the RECs and the officials of the commission on ground to summit first hand report in relation to some of these incidents. We are still receiving reports in relation to the incidents in some states in the country, but we have received report relating to Akokutolo and Bonny LGAs in Rivers State. “So long as the commission could not deploy in these areas, the implication is that poll did not open in these areas and the commission will hold consultation with the relevant authorities and the REC in relation to these areas and will announce when vote will take place in some of these areas especially as it relates to House of Representatives and the Senate.
“Some of these incidents, as I pointed out before are from Anambra, Rivers, Lagos and other states but we have asked the RECs from some of these states to give us report after confirming the authenticity of them from the officers who are on ground. So, the moment we get the verified reports from the RECs, we will take decision in relation to some of these areas.”