The Independent National Electoral Commission has announced that it would conduct fresh elections in areas where voting was disrupted in the violence-marred Rivers States polls of March 19.
However, the electoral body said in a statement Friday that it would never return for the fresh polls until there is an assurance of security and safety.
INEC said it would not endanger the lives of its personnel, journalists and observers andothers 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,” the statement signed by INEC’s Director of Voters’ Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said.
Even so, the commission 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 All Progressives Congress had called for total cancellation of elections in Rivers State. But INEC said it would 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”, yet, it insisted no fake result sheet was used, dismissing allegations by 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 condemned the violence that characterised 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 with at I on.“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.”