Jega Shuns US, EU; Insists On Rivers, Akwa Ibom Results
The Independent National Electoral Commission has declared that it will not cancel the gubernatorial election in Rivers State and Akwa Ibom despite despite earlier call by the United State ambassador in Nigeria, European Union and other international observers to cancel the polls in the two states due to massive irregularities that marred the conduct of the elections.
The Chairman of the electoral umpire, Attahiru Jega has said the commission lacks power to cancel the results of the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, according to Punch News
This was made known a few hours after the European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria on Monday called for a probe of the “severe problems” that characterised the polls in the two states. Punch reports
The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Kayode Idowu, said those calling on the commission to cancel the results were misdirecting their request.
He explained that once results had been announced by INEC , only election petition tribunals had the power to cancel and order fresh elections.
Idowu said, “The law does not allow us to cancel any result after it has been announced. Everyone knows this.
“It is only the election petition tribunals that can order that or even cancelled the elections. We would advice anyone who is aggrieved to go to the court. “
Also in Abuja on Monday, EU EOM said the elections in Akwa Ibom and Rivers states needed to be probed because of accusations of rigging, intimidation and violence by opponents of the winners.
Udom Emmanuel won the governorship in election in Akwa Ibom while a former Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, triumphed in Rivers.
The Chief Observer of the EU EOM, Santiago Fisas, said at a news conference that even though the elections witnessed “more efficient polling, “there were “increased incidents of violence and interference.”
He added, “On April 12, INEC referred to 66 reports of violent incidents targeting polling units, INEC officials, voters and election materials in 19 states in all geopolitical zones except for the North-East.
“Both the main parties made many accusations of rigging, intimidation and violence by opponents. Problems were most pronounced in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states where there are multiple credible reports of violence and interference, which warrant further investigation.”
Fisas however encouraged those with grievances to address them through official channels.
The Chief observer also commended President Goodluck Jonathan for conceding defeat before the last result was read.
Fisas, who described the election-related killings as regrettable, stressed that loss of lives was unacceptable in election conduct.
He said, “It is very regrettable that so many people lost their lives during the elections. Election must be violence-free; loss of lives is not acceptable. Citizens should be able to express their political will freely without fear for their lives.
“My full condolences go to families and friends of those who have been killed during this election process; also to the family of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kano, who perished with his family in the tragic fire.”
Also on Monday, the United States which congratulated Nigerians and INEC on the successful conduct of the general elections, said it had “seen the reports of violence and alleged irregularities, particularly in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.”
In a statement by its Embassy in Nigeria, the US called on those dissatisfied to pursue their grievances peacefully through the judiciary.
The statement read in part, “The US Embassy in Nigeria congratulates the people of Nigeria and INEC for an electoral process on April 11, 2015 that generally went well across the country and built on the success of the March 28 polling process.
“We have seen the reports of violence and alleged irregularities, particularly in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, and call on those dissatisfied to pursue their grievances peacefully in the judicial arena. We regret any loss of life and destruction of property.”
It lauded “the leadership of Nigeria’s political parties, notably President Goodluck Jonathan and President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, for urging their supporters to conduct themselves peacefully throughout the electoral process.”