Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the cancellation of certain polling units in the rerun elections conducted in Cross River and Akwa-Ibom states over what it described as electoral infractions.
The commission, in a statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, also disclosed that it has set up a high-powered delegation to resume the collation of the suspended results in Imo State.
“The INEC met on January 27, 2020 and reviewed the conduct of the January 25, 2020 Court Ordered Re-run elections in 28 Constituencies in 11 States of the Federation.
“It noted a marked improvement in compliance with its processes and procedures during the elections. The Commission commends the voters, security agents, the media and election staff for their praiseworthy conduct.
“Regretably, deviant behaviour by a few persons determined to subvert the people’s will was noticed in a few areas in the course of the elections. These isolated incidents minimally affected the peaceful and orderly exercise in only four of the 28 constituencies where elections were conducted.
“However, consistent with the Commission’s resolve to sanction electoral bad behaviour, the Commission took the following steps to protect the process:
“In Akwa-Ibom State, where the officials of the Commission were abducted and diverted to an undesignated location and forced to compromise the elections in Essien Udim Local Government Area, all the polling units involved were identified and their results discountenanced.
“In Isa Local Government Area of Sokoto state, the activities of bandits prevented the Commission from deploying to a few polling units, but the Commission successfully conducted elections and declared results.
“In Abi State Constituency of Cross River State, officials of the Commission were abducted and thus prevented from deploying in eight polling units. All officials of the Commission that were abducted have been rescued and accounted for.
“In furtherance of its resolve NOT to accept results from areas where the processes were disrupted and its officials attacked, the Commission took a firm action by not accepting results from such areas as it could not vouch for their integrity.
“But the Commission notes that in most cases, these incidents were not widespread and did not significantly affect the overall results. As such, declarations and returns were made,” the statement read.
On Imo rerun, the Commission said: “In the case of Oru East/Orsu/Orlu Federal Constituency of Imo State, the election was conducted peacefully in the eighteen (18) polling units as ordered by the Court.
“However, thugs disrupted the collation of results at the designated Centre in Orlu. They injured our staff and other persons at the Centre, destroyed result sheets and damaged the Commission’s Local Government building being used for the collation. Consequently, the Commission suspended the process.
“Arising from the suspension of collation, the Commission has decided to apply the provision of Paragraph 47(f) of its Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of the elections, which provides that in the event of such a disruption, saved original and duplicate result sheets be used to complete the collation of results.
“Accordingly, the Commission has deployed a high-powered team consisting of National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners and Senior Staff of the Commission to Imo State to coordinate the regeneration of results and conclusion of collation, as well as declaration and announcement of the final outcome of the rerun election in the Oru East/Orsu/Orlu Federal Constituency,” the commission, noted in the statement.