By Egufe Yafugborhi
DESPITE face-saving pretenses, denials and buck-passing by Rivers State ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and major opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, many are left with the impression that maniacal rivalry inflamed the violence that marred the Saturday, August 18 by-election for Port Harcourt Constituency III seat of the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
However while many did not fault the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for suspending the exercise over the widespread violence, the electoral umpire has come under knocks for the indefinite nature of its action.
Two other political parties that participated in the exercise, yesterday, threatened to drag INEC to court should the commission fail to conclude the suspended process and announce the winner.
The parties, Democratic Alternative, DA, and Masses Movement of Nigeria, MMN, expressed their intentions at a joint press briefing in Port Harcourt. Lucky Ekeji, chairman, MMN, in Rivers, said the INEC’s action was unnecessary and contravenes provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
“If they anticipated violence they would have suspended the exercise and call the parties to order. Since that was not done, an election process started and about to be concluded, it was wrong to have suspended the processes the manner they did. They should conclude the process and announce the results. I am not working with anybody. I am standing along as Chairman of MMN, a political party just like every other party,” Ekeji stated. Ekeji’s counterpart, Obarasua Johnbull, who chairs Rivers State DA said: “As stakeholders in the process, our party agents confirmed that between 2pm and 6pm, collation of results as declared in several units was in progress on the day of the election.
“Subsequently, security agents successfully escorted all required materials to the INEC office. Surprisingly, party agents were later informed of suspension of collation while everyone else woke up to the shocking news of election suspension hinged on election violence.
“This is a white lie that must not stand. We must state clearly that this is unacceptable and a disgrace to our democracy.”
The position of both parties was also held by the APC in Rivers which had earlier called for conclusion of the process, apparently on the notion that it was ahead of the PDP in total votes collated before the process was suspended.