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Breaking: INEC rules out repeat poll where thugs disrupted process

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Breaking: INEC rules out repeat poll where thugs disrupted process

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has foreclosed supplementary elections in areas where thugs disrupted the process and destroyed electoral materials.

The Commission has also said that it has started releasing accreditation data contained in the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) from the Presidential and National Assembly elections to political parties and other Nigerians who may be interested in them.

According the electoral umpire, the accreditation data had been stored in the Commission’s back end before the BVAS machines were reconfigured for last Saturday’s governorship election.

Chairman of the agency’s Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, a National Commissioner, told reporters in Abuja that one of its staff was killed during the governorship elections.

Okoye, who, however, did not give details, said a number of other INEC personnel were either abducted, harassed or being intimidated.

He said: “By the provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act and our rules and guidelines, there are various steps to be taken when certain things did not work right.

“For instance, Section 65 of the Electoral Act gives the Commission the power to review declarations and reports made if in the commission’s view, the declaration were made under duress or made in fragrant violation of the electoral act, the constitution and our guidelines.

“The commission can go back and conduct a supplementary election in an area if the commission did not mobilise to that location.

“If during the conduct of an election, the process was disrupted in certain places, the law says that if our processes and procedures are disrupted or resistance to the use of the BVAS, the Commission can give 0 score to that polling unit.

“In some cases, if results are cancelled in some polling units and during collation, we discovered that the margin of lead could affect the outcome of the election, we can go back and conduct supplementary election in those places. Whether we conduct supplementary election in an area is within the purview of the returning officer in that area.”

Responding to questions on why the complete results of the Presidential and National Assembly elections has not been uploaded on the IREV, Okoye said the commission did not mobilise to men and materials to some areas because there were no registered voters in such pilling units.

He also said that out of the 176,606 polling units where elections was scheduled to place, “there were areas were deployment were not made and you don’t expect results from those areas.

The National Commissioner said that before the commission reconfigured the BVAS, for the governorship and Assembly elections, “we made sure that every data that was left behind in the BVAS relating to the Presidential and National Assembly elections was pushed to the back end for the purposes of giving those who want to go to court the opportunity of having the data of the back end of the commission relating to those that were accredited during the Presidential and National Assembly election.

“So, we don’t have any data remaining in the BVAS as at today relating to the Presidential and National Assembly election. Every data has been pushed to the back end and political parties and candidates have been applying for it and the Commission has been making it available to all those who are interested.”

On the number of regular and ad hoc staff abducted during the governorship and state Assembly elections, he said: “We are still collating the data on the number of staff of the commission that were abducted. But we know that in two or three states of the federation, some staff of the commission were abducted.

“Some of them have been released; some of them are still facing various degree of threats. I am sure that by the time the collation of results ends, we will have a complete picture of the number of staff abducted and those facing one form of harassment or intimidation.”

Okoye said the commission is making progress and making efforts to overcome whatever challenges that were recorded during the Presidential and National Assembly elections, saying: “but in the fullness of time, we will still sit down to do both internal and external review and there is a possibility that we may come up with more measures to be taken to ensure that the type of glitches we experienced during the Presidential and National Assembly election does not repeat itself.”

Speaking on the improvement experienced during the governorship elections, he said: “We have left no stone unturned as far as the processes and procedures under the control of the Commission were concerned.

“However, for difficult and unforeseen circumstances outside the Commission’s control, we did our best to respond, especially where processes were disrupted by actors over whom we have little or no control.

“Such diabolical behaviour did not only affect citizens but also impacted on the Commission’s officials and processes. INEC staff, both regular and ad hoc were victims of violence.

“Some of our staff were abducted, harassed, intimidated, hospitalised and in one case killed. Nevertheless, where we could not deploy to enable citizens to vote, the Commission took the decision to remobilise to such places to enable citizens to exercise their franchise.

“Unfortunately, we could not extend the same to areas where voting was disrupted, and election materials destroyed. We are keeping our eyes on those areas and would not hesitate to remobilise where the outcome of the election is affected.

“At the moment, collation of results and declaration of winners for the 28 governorship and 993 State Assembly elections are ongoing nationwide. We are committed to the sanctity of the process and will not hesitate to take drastic measures against proven irregularities. Allegations of voter inducement, harassment and manipulation of results will be reviewed and addressed.

“Earlier today (yesterday), the Commission alerted the nation to the invasion of our Obingwa Local Government Area Office in Abia State by thugs during the collation of results for the governorship and State Assembly elections. In contention was the collated result from the Registration Areas for the governorship election in that Local Government Area.

“The intention was to force the collation of these contentious results. The behaviour of these thugs is unacceptable and there will be a thorough review of the results.

“The Commission does not take the patience of citizens for granted and will continue to take steps to protect the integrity of the vote and consolidate the progress made so far in the electoral process.”

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