The All Progressives Congress, (APC) and the African Action Congress, (AAC) Rivers state chapter have reacted separately to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) pronouncement that it would conclude the electoral process for the governorship and state assembly in the state this week.
INEC had earlier announced suspension the collation of results last Sunday, attributing its decision to disruption of the process by hoodlums and some soldiers.
But in a statement issued on Saturday morning and signed by Festus Okoye, its National Commissioner and Chairman Voter’s Education and Publicity Committee, the electoral umpire said it would conclude the process this week but expressed strong reservations over the conduct of soldiers and further revealed that it was determined to “engage the security agencies at national level and the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee at the State level to demand neutrality and professionalism of security personnel in order to secure a peaceful environment for the completion of the elections. ”
But the APC in a statement by Tonye Princewill, Director Communications and Strategy, Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation faulted INEC criticism of the involvement of the military in Rivers election.
The APC noted that the violence that trailed the process in Rivers state could have been worse but for the involvement of the military.
“We’ve seen the statement issued by INEC and I stand by my earlier comment that even if they tried, INEC can’t save Wike. Apart from spelling mistakes, the vague statement reveals a lot of things about an umpire that doesn’t pay attention to finer detail, refuses to take any responsibility for its failures and yet goes on to equate moral equivalence between the Nigerian Army and common thugs.
“That ludicrous position is where they reveal their true colours. The statement could easily have been drafted in collaboration with Rivers state Government House. Let me reiterate again that without the Army, Rivers state would have been a bloodbath. Just like with INEC, we too have more to reveal in the days to come. Let’s not say too much. There is an old African proverb that says if the mouth goes to war too early, when the leg arrives, the enemy will grab it .”
The AAC in its statement signed by Felix Enimini William, its Rivers state publicity secretary, demanded from INEC names of the 17 local government areas whose results have been released before the collation of results would proceed.
The AAC further alleged that INEC was secretly collating results of governorship election to favour the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Nyesom Wike whom it claimed was the electoral umpire preferred candidate.
The statement read in part:” The African Action Congress in Rivers State condemns in its entirety the memo released into media space by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by midnight purporting that governorship and state assembly elections results were available for seventeen (17) LGAs.
“Sadly, we are curiously surprised and disappointed that INEC deliberately refused to name the 17 local government areas. As far as this information is concerned, it is manifestly false and the attempt to shroud the LGAs claimed to have resulted in secrecy is a serious step by INEC to sway the outcome of the process in favour of Gov. Nyesom Wike its preferred candidate.
“We suspect that INEC might be working to surreptitiously bring in cooked up results credited to Obio/Akpor to skew the balance of reality of things in favour of Wike. We vehemently reject this and will resist it with everything pint of blood in us.
” It is now clear to all that INEC has become deaf and blind to the fact that Gov. Nyesom Wike invaded the Obio/Akpor collation centre and ordered his security men to shoot an Army Captain and another soldier providing perimeter security to the collation centre. The Captain and his colleague are still in hospital after undergoing serious surgery.
“We ask: Is it so difficult for INEC to name the 17 LGAs? If INEC has agreed and accepted that 4 collation officers are card-carrying members of PDP and INEC have now sanctioned them, what happens to the results they collated having not been qualified to do so ab initio?
“The AAC calls on INEC to stop its collaboration with Gov. Nyesom Wike and the PDP. It must declare Engr. Biokpomabo Awara our governorship candidate winner of the March 9 governorship election as it was glaring that he was winning until INEC stepped in to halt the process apparently to save Wike from an earth-shaking defeat.
“Finally, those (including Gov. Wike) who make the argument that our party and candidate are not popular enough to win the Rivers State governorship election are simply being clever by half. Can the governor and his ilk also say that APC that threw its weight behind us, for obvious reasons, are not popular and on ground in Rivers State?”
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