Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, said on Sunday that the commission was not under pressure to declare the results of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections inconclusive.
He also assured that collation and release of the results of the elections will begin by noon today.
According to the INEC chairman, results from two states were received last night, although reports indicated that the collation had reached 80 per cent and 90 per cent in some states.
Jega, at a press briefing in Abuja on the elections, said contrary to insinuations, the Smart Card Readers worked in most of the 150,000 polling units.
He said the failure of Card Readers was recorded in 374 of the 150,000 in the country, which was less than 1%.
Jega said: “We are not under any pressure to declare elections inconclusive. I wonder who will be interested in declaring inconclusive election. I want to believe that candidates would have wanted to be declared winners and not to have an election being declared inconclusive. Really, there is no truth whatsoever to that”.
He continued: “I have said that in 2011, INEC was able to declare the presidential election results within 48 hours and we have been working assiduously to be able to beat that record and so our hope and what we have been working for is to be able to declare the results within 48hours and, hopefully, in a much less time as we did in. 2011.
“So, the 48 hours commenced after the elections had ended yesterday (Saturday) when substantial majority of the polling units have concluded elections.
“According to reports from our state offices, the collation of results has commenced and is going on well.
“The first collated results for the presidential election are expected at the National Collation Centre here in Abuja by this evening (Sunday’s).
“Meanwhile, the commission warns strongly against premature publication and announcement of results by unauthorized persons and media channels particularly online sites.
“Only INEC is empowered by law to announce results and it is an offence for anyone to preempt the commission in this regard”.
He said INEC was investigating the failure of Card Readers in 374 Polling Units out if 150,000.
He said: “Obviously, we received reports from the field that the Card Readers were not reading and the numbers reported were alarming.
“From the statistics, however, 0.25 per cent of the total number of Card Readers were reported to have failed. We had deployed over 150,000.
“The percentage is statistically insignificant. Maybe only 374 Card Readers (less than 500) did not work. It was a tremendous achievement. We believe the use of Card Readers was the right decision under the circumstance.
“It is also gratifying to note that the Card Readers worked well in the majority of Polling Units, even though there were areas where difficulties experienced necessitated additional guidelines by the commission to allow for manual accreditation of voters, as announced yesterday.
“So far, Osun, Kebbi, Ekiti, Adamawa, Borno, Jigawa, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states have reported reverting to manual-only accreditation of voters in some polling units.
“Investigations into what accounted for the difficulties encountered with the Card Readers are ongoing”.
Regarding the crisis in Rivers State, especially the abuse of the process, Jega promised that the commission will probe the alleged irregularities.
He said: “This morning, I received a letter from the APC political party calling for cancellation and postponing of the Rivers state elections.
“When we received this kind of letter of complaint, we do our best to thoroughly investigate them and we have commenced our investigations.
“The commission has not yet taken a decision, but we will take the decision and we will communicate our decision directly to the political party but that will have to be after our investigation.
“However, we are concerned about what seems to be happening in Rivers State. There are many alleged cases of malpractice and we certainly are paying a lot of attention to investigate this and if any of our staff is found to be involved, obviously we will apply the maximum sanction and take appropriate decision as provided by the legal framework”.
Replying to a question, Jega warned Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) against honoring summons from governors.
The INEC chairman said: “I have not received any report of summoning of RECs by governors. I will be surprised if they are succumbing to pressure from state governors because INEC is independent.
“If people have information about those who were summoned, they should let us know. But being summoned is one thing, complying is another thing”.
Jega, who also confirmed that elections were held Sunday only in 350 polling units where there were challenges the previous day, said the conduct of the polls was remarkably successful.
He added: “As a result of the operational challenges experienced, elections could not be concluded yesterday in a few polling units and, therefore, these will be concluded today.
“According to the reports so far received, elections are being concluded today as follows: Lagos (90 PUs); Kebbi (16 PUs); Adamawa (25 PUs); Niger (6 PUs); Yobe (38PUs); Borno (8 PUs); Jigawa (37 PUs); Kano (13 PUs); Taraba (116 PUs); and FCT (2PUs).
On security challenges in some states, the INEC boss said two ad hoc staff were killed in Gombe State by Boko Haram insurgents.
He said: “We received the report which was sent in by our Resident Electoral Commissioner from Gombe that persons suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents attacked some areas and in the process, two adhoc staff of INEC lost their lives and also a few vehicles belonging to Road Workers Transport Union were hijacked.
“This is very very unfortunate, and we have sent condolences to the family of the bereaved. Any loss of live is regrettable and unfortunate. We condemn it in all certain terms, and we are doing all things possible to express our condolences to the families of the bereaved”.
Jega praised the resilience of Nigerians for coming out to vote en masse.
He said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission wishes to commend Nigerians for their large turn out and peaceful conduct during the National Elections held on Saturday, March 28, 2015.
“The commission commends Nigerians for the resilience and remarkable understanding they exhibited in the face of these difficulties. We hope that good conduct will continue throughout the post-election period as well.
“We are pleased that the elections went on smoothly in a substantial number of polling units across the country, including the North-East where the commission was also able to conduct voting for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the three states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno”.