The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, Friday expressed regrets over the commission’s handling of last Saturday’s gubernatorial election in Anambra State but admitted that INEC did its best under the circumstances.
The INEC boss, who said that the commission failed to meet the expectations of Nigerians in the conduct of the Anambra guber polls, while announcing a November 30 date for the supplementary elections in the 210 polling units across six local government areas where elections were cancelled, however, maintained that fact that the election was peacefully conducted in some areas, was enough for the commission to reject calls from some quarters for an outright cancellation of the entire election.
The INEC boss added that all the allegations of disenfranchisement as evident in the massive omission of some voters’ names and wrongful display of voters register were unfounded and challenged all the candidates and political parties accusing the commission of disenfranchisement and displaying fake voters register, to come out with proof.
He stated: “There is no doubt that he INEC conducted the Anambra State governorship election. In preparing for that election, INEC was determined to make it the best election that it has conducted in recent times, and we prepared for that election, in terms of energy and other forms, more than we have prepared in our previous elections.
“There is no doubt that INEC operational performance in that election has not met with the expectations of Nigerians, as it did not measure up to our expectations of being the best elections ever conducted by INEC.
“We regret shattering the expectations of Nigerians, but we did our best, under very difficult circumstances, to have a free, fair and credible election.
“Nigerians are also no doubt aware that the Returning Officer, when announcing the results compiled from that election, declared it inconclusive and mentioned the need to do a supplementary election in order to have a final compilation of the results.
“Following the conduct of the elections, we have received complaints from candidates and political parties, as well as many other Nigerians, raising issues about the conduct of the election. Some called for outright cancellation of the election, marshalling arguments as to why the election must be cancelled.
“We had a meeting with the field officers and senior management officers who participated in the election. We received information about what was done right and where there were lapses and the commission today took a decision with regards to the next line of action.”
He continued: “We regret that in spite of our intentions, Anambra election did not turn out to be the best election that the commission has conducted for far.
“We regret the challenges that we faced in the conduct of this election. But in our assessment, there is no other decision that the commission can take other than the declaration of the returning officer to conduct a supplementary election in those areas where the results were cancelled before e final return will be made.
“We have examined all the accusations and allegations that have been made and we have come to the conclusion that in spite of the unfortunate minor challenges that we faced, there is no substantial evidence to support outright cancellation of the process.
“We believe that although the Anambra election was not the best, there was substantial compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and a substantial majority of the complains that have been laid cannot be substantiated.
“Therefore, we have decided that the supplementary election will be hold in Anambra State on Saturday November 30, 2013.
“There is no doubt that there was the challenge of late commencement of elections. There was also no doubt that the late commencement accounted for the delay by election officers. There was also no doubt that in some polling units, there were no election materials, but where those materials arrived early, there was no doubt that election was conducted peacefully and successfully.
“We have investigated all the allegations of voters’ register and found out that the INEC did not falter in the process of the voters register.
We reviewed the register and were satisfied with the reports we got after the review.
“At this point, we challenge any political party that has a discrepancy or variance in the voters’ register that INEC displayed at the election to come forward and prove us wrong,” Jega stated.