Barely 20 days after the rerun state and National Assembly elections in Rivers State, the Coalition of Concerned Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) for the NEW Rivers Vision, comprising more than 850 bodies, has challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately release the remaining results covering all the local governments in which elections were conducted successfully on March 19.
In a communiqué issued after an emergency state working committee meeting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, and signed by the President, Comrade Christian Obi, and Secretary, John-Paul Uzor, the coalition said INEC had no justifiable reason to withhold the results of elections that had been concluded.
The coalition, which claimed to have monitored the elections in all the units and wards where INEC conducted the rerun elections, emphasized that the process was credible, free and fair, “except for a few nipping points in Khana, Gokana, Tai and Eleme local government areas”, stressing that “the process in virtually all the local governments where the elections were suspended was purely logistical hitches arising from the commission’s weak preparations”.
It listed Bonny and Andoni as clear cases where the commission failed to meet its set timeline for the delivery of electoral materials and the expectations of the people, as well as Etche, where INEC abdicated its responsibility to deliver election materials to the designated units for the proper conduct of elections, while blaming the commission for failing to enlist adequate security protection for electoral materials in most areas.
The coalition noted that the purported violence which ‘marred’ the rerun elections in some parts of the state was triggered by the commission’s unwillingness to allow the electorate exercise their franchise freely, saying that if adequate preparations had been made, election material would have reached all polling units as early as 8am and elections concluded by 2pm as promised by INEC.
According to the coalition, “INEC has no justification to withhold results of an election it deliberately bungled”, adding that what the commission was doing amounted to “an attempt to thwart the will of the people who voted massively for the candidates of their choice on March 19”.
While congratulating all those who have already been declared winners in their various constituencies, the coalition urged the losers to accept defeat as good sportsmen and women, and join forces with the government to move the state forward.
The coalition also threatened to challenge INEC’s decision not to release the remaining results in a court of competent jurisdiction to restore the rights of the candidates to be voted for by the electorate, pointing out that the commission had already violated the provisions of the Electoral Act as Amended.
It stated that the inability of INEC to declare the remaining results and hand over certificate of return to winners was adversely affecting the democratic transition process and the delivery of dividends of good governance to Rivers people and other residents of the state.
The concerned coalition for the NEW Rivers Vision also charged the electorate in Rivers State not to despair and lose confidence in the democratic process, even as they prepare to vote again for the candidates of their choice and reaffirm their support for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) at the yet-to-be-rescheduled rerun elections in the suspended eight local government areas of Akuku-Toru, Andoni, Bonny, Eleme, Etche, Gokana, Khana, and Tai, to ensure the peace, stability and sustainable development of the state.
Similarly, the Degema Local Government chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) has given a 72-hour ultimatum to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare winner of the Degema Constituency rerun election of March 19th, 2016 or face legal action.
Coordinator of the NYCN, Godspower Ipalibo Madodoye, stated this at a press conference in Port Harcourt.
The youth leader stressed that the Electoral Act empowers INEC to conduct election and declare winners of such elections, while those who disagree with INEC should go to the tribunal or court to seek legal redress.
He said that the refusal of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers State, Aniedi Ikoiwak, to declare the winner of the rerun elections was unacceptable to the youth of the area, stressing that the situation was capable of causing crisis in the area.