Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised the alarm over alleged plot by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to move the collation centre for the governorship election from Hotel Presidential to an undisclosed location.
It said the commission is planning to do so at the behest of African Action Congress (AAC) and some extraneous forces.
Chairman of the party, Felix Obuah, said the party has it on good authority that INEC is acceding to the demands of a political party and some forces hell bent on scuttling the outcome of the March 9 election and setting the state on fire.
Obuah warned INEC not to allow itself to be used to precipitate constitutional crisis in the state.
However, reacting to the allegation, INEC washed its hands off any plot to change the collation centre.
INEC Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said: “I can tell you categorically that there is no truth in that claim. INEC collation centre in Rivers will not be moved. Please disregard the rumour.”
Meanwhile, INEC has assured it is going ahead with the planned collation of results of March 9 governorship election in Rivers State from April 2.
INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, reacting to a petition by the African Action Congress (AAC) in which the party asked the commission to shelve plans to collate results of the governorship election in Rivers State, dismissed such request as inappropriate.
He said no political party can stop it from carrying out its constitutional responsibility.
Insisting that no party can order the commission around, Okoye said there is no changing of plans in the April 2 collation of results decision.
He said: “No party or individual can stop us from carrying out our constitutional responsibility. We will commence collation of election results from April 2, we are going ahead with that.”
He added “our advice to all the parties is to work with INEC to conclude the exercise.”
AAC governorship candidate in Rivers State, Biokpomabo Awara, on Tuesday told newsmen in Abuja that he had submitted a petition to INEC, demanding the stoppage of the collation of the governorship election results scheduled to kick off on April 2.
Rather than go ahead with the collation of the results, he urged INEC to conduct a fresh governorship election in Rivers.
Awara’s AAC is backed by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi and a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The deputy governorship candidate of the party, Akpo Bomba Yeeh, last week, resigned his membership of the party and joined the PDP.
In the same vein, thousands of leaders and members of 85 registered political parties, yesterday, marched through the streets of Port Harcourt, celebrating the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike in the March 9 governorship election.
They also urged INEC to diligently conclude the official collation and declaration of the state governorship election results.
Leaders and members of the registered political parties, who gathered under the aegis of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), at the Isaac Boro Park, in Port Harcourt, at about 7:30a.m, declared that the peace walk was aimed at telling the world that Rivers people, irrespective of political affiliations, voted overwhelmingly for governor Wike on March 9.
They sang pro-Wike songs as they marched through the streets, insisting that on no account should the votes of Rivers people be manipulated.
Also, IPAC passed a vote of confidence in the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers, Obo Effanga.
The protesters displayed several placards indicating their preference for governor Wike, and the need for the collation process to be concluded as outlined in the timelines of INEC.
In his address, IPAC Chairman in Rivers State, Precious Baridoo, said the political parties were calling on INEC to continue with the collation and declaration of the governorship election results.
He said: “Let the election process continue in Rivers State. We are telling INEC to go ahead with the process. We condemn, in totality, calls, by a few persons, for the removal of Effanga. We want him to continue and conclude his job.”
In another development, AAC Deputy Chairman, Amezhinim Prince Atuma, has resigned his membership of the party.
Atuma announced his official defection to the PDP at a brief ceremony in Port Harcourt, yesterday after his resignation from AAC.
He said his decision to defect was necessitated by his commitment to the advancement of the democratic interest of Rivers State and the peace of its people.