No Rerun In Rivers Until Atmosphere Is Conducive, INEC Vows

Rivers VotingThe Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said yesterday that it would conduct fresh elections in areas where voting was disrupted in the violence-marred rerun elections ordered by the Appeal Court in Rivers State on March 19.
It, however, vowed not to return for the fresh polls until there is an assurance of security and safety.
The INEC’s Director of Voters’ Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, who stated this in a statement Friday, said the commission would not endanger the lives of its personnel, journalists and observers and others involved in the exercise.
“INEC will, at a date to be decided, conduct fresh elections starting with accreditation and voting in all Local Government Areas, Constituencies, Registration Areas and Polling Units where the exercise was disrupted before voting was concluded on Saturday 19th March, 2016”, he said.
The commission further said this would only be after due consultation with parties involved, and subject to the advice of the security agencies and guarantees by the political parties, candidates and their supporters.
“While the Commission is committed to conducting free, fair and credible elections, it hereby reiterates its resolve not to return to Rivers State (or anywhere else where there was a breakdown of law and order in the cause of conducting elections) until there is a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of credible elections. As a responsible organization, it will not expose its stakeholders especially voters, its officials, observers, media personnel to any danger and even where dates have been fixed and published, it will not hesitate to again suspend the exercise where there is a clear danger or credible threat of a breakdown of law and order”, INEC said.
The March 19 rerun polls was marred by violence with the police confirming that four persons, including a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, were killed by suspected political thugs.
While the opposition All Progressives Congress called for outright cancellation of elections in Rivers State, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party urged the electoral umpire to announce all the results of the elections.
But INEC said it would only uphold results already declared.
“The Commission restates its earlier decision to uphold the declarations and returns made in the Federal and State Constituencies where the exercise had been concluded.
“Similarly, the Commission will conclude and make returns in constituencies where it is satisfied that voting and collation were done in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and our Guidelines”, INEC said.
Although INEC said it acknowledged “that there were some challenges in its operational efficiency, especially as it concerns the production and customization of the result sheets used for the conduct of the election”, it insisted no fake result sheet was used, dismissing allegations by both PDP and APC.
“The Commission wishes to emphatically state that there were no fake result sheets or any fake materials used in the conduct of the elections”, it said.
INEC also condemned the violence that marred the elections.
“The Commission condemns in no uncertain terms all those who have been spewing hate speeches and making incendiary statements, which no doubt exacerbated an already tense situation.
“It will like to again commiserate with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the family, friends and colleagues of Samuel Dumebi Okonta, the Corps member who unfortunately lost his life in this patriotic service as a poll official. May his soul rest in peace”.