The Independent National Electoral Commission has admitted that soldiers and armed gangs were used to intimidate and unlawfully arrest its staff during the recent governorship election held on March 9, 2019, in Rivers state.
The commission also expressed its displeasure with the role played by soldiers and armed gangs in Rivers State who disrupted the collation process and attempted “to subvert the will of the people.”
A statement issued around 11:42 pm last night and signed by INEC National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission would engage the security agencies at the 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.
He said, “On March 10 2019, the commission suspended all electoral processes in Rivers State having determined that there was widespread disruption of collation of results of the elections conducted on March 9 2019. Subsequently, the commission set up a fact-finding committee to assess the situation and report back within 48 hours.
“The commission met on March 15, 2019, and considered the report of the committee and established that the governorship and State Assembly elections took place in most of the polling units and results were announced.
“The results from 17 Local Governments out of 23 are available and are in the commission’s custody. The declaration and returns for 21 State constituencies out of 32 were made prior to the suspension.
“Collation centres were invaded by some soldiers and armed gangs resulting in the intimidation and unlawful arrest of election officials thereby disrupting the collation process.
“Consequent upon the foregoing, the commission expresses its displeasure with the role played by some soldiers and armed gangs in Rivers State disrupting the collation process and attempting to subvert the will of the people.
“The commission is committed to expeditious completion of the collation process where results of the elections have been announced. We will engage the security agencies at the national level and the IACC 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.
“We will also engage with key stakeholders in Rivers State with a view to ensuring a smooth and peaceful completion of the process. INEC issue detailed timelines and activities for the completion of the election on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.”