Rivers State: Inconclusive Aftermath to “Inconclusive” Elections

Picture Source / AIT
Picture Source / AIT

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has yet to announce a new date for the rerun legislative elections in Rivers State. Rerun elections held in Rivers on March 19, 2016 were disrupted by intimidation and violence, and Nigeria’s electoral umpire had declared some of the results of the election “inconclusive,” as reported by Nigerianreporter.com.

The March elections were marked with violence and mayhem as hoodlums attacked INEC officials and security operatives. Some officials boycotted the elections due to the violence.

Oluwole Osaze Uzzi, the INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, issued an official letter in the aftermath of the election:

Following the disruption of the re-run elections in Rivers state and the consequent suspension of further action in the exercise, the Independent National Electoral Commission held a meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Rivers State and its Supervisors and Monitors who were in the State. The Commission has considered the submissions of these officials and undertaken an audit of its personnel deployed as polling officials and for related duties. Its findings are that the elections were characterized by violence, intimidation, threats, palpable fear and abduction of some of its officials in many areas. INEC acknowledges 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. Position as at Time of Suspension

As at the time of the suspension of further action by the Commission, the exercise was at different stages, as follows:
(i.) The Elections had been concluded in some constituencies with the declaration of results and return of winners by the respective Returning Officers;
(ii.) Results declared and/or returns made under duress or by unauthorized persons;
(iii.) Collation had been concluded but no declaration or return made;
(iv.) Voting had been concluded and collation was on-going but yet to be concluded;
(v.) Voting concluded but collation yet to commence;
(vi.) No voting at all or voting commenced but was disrupted before conclusion
.”

The major opposition party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC), have been trading blame for the failed elections. The incumbent governor of Rivers State, Nyesome Wike (PDP) has accused the ruling party of using security operatives to affect the outcome of the elction. On the other hand, the APC’s Rivers State Party Chairman, Davies Ikanya, described the exercise as a “mockery to democracy.”