The collation officer for the presidential election in Rivers State, Enefiok Essien, on Thursday announced the deletion of results from Emohua Local Government Area where President Muhammadu Buhari was earlier announced to have won 72,000 votes.
The deletion, announced after the presentation of final results at the collation centre in Port Harcourt Tuesday evening, was a shift from Mr Essien’s verdict given on Monday night.
The results had become controversial after the Electoral Officer (EO), Kenneth Ita, rejected them and queried how the Collation Officer (CO), Pang Enubari, sourced them. The former said no collation took place.
Both officials later reconciled the second time they were called, with the EO requesting the CO be allowed to make his presentation. Mr Ita, however, said he had sent his report.
In his presentation, the CO said the APC scored 72,745 votes and the PDP 7,148.
But party agents led by PDP’s Austin Okpara pressured the state collation officer, Mr Essien, to request the forms containing the breakdown of results from wards submitted by ward returning officers.
When they appeared a third time, the CO brought the forms requested and the EO affirmed: “this is INEC form.”
Even so, the party agents disagreed insisting that the EO had earlier said no collation took place.
But in his verdict, before the collation closed on Monday night, Mr Essien said the results would be recorded officially, while the controversy would be escalated to the national collation centre in Abuja.
“We can’t create a separate table for that. I’ll raise it with the INEC chairman. But the way the template is, we can’t have a separate place to say this one is special.
“So, it (Emohua) will be there,” he said on Monday night.
However, after announcing the final collated results Tuesday evening, Mr Essien announced a new decision.
He said he had received reports from the ward returning officers that they did not collate any results from any polling unit in Emohua.
“Since they (ward returning officers) said they did not collate any results, the results from Emohua will not be accepted,” he declared.
The agent of the APC, Samson Ngerebara, challenged Mr Essien’s decision to reverse himself but nothing came of his effort.
“If you want to make yourself the tribunal, sit now and start to Investigate all the results,” said Mr Ngerebara. “I have the recording of all you said last night.”
“You mutilated results against our President Muhammadu Buhari,” another one said.
Mr Essien was escorted out of the collation centre by armed security agents as APC agents moved to stop his exit, bringing the exercise to a chaotic end.
Journalist and observers ran out of the centre through the windows and the venue was then evacuated.
In the final outcome, PDP won Rivers State with 473,971 votes against APC’s 150,710 votes.
The Director-General of the APC presidential campaign, Rotimi Amaechi, is a former governor of the state.
Apart from Emohua, there were also no collated results from Okrika, Ahoada West, Bonny, Akuku Toru, and Ikwerre, Mr Amaechi’s LGA.
Thus, only results from 17 LGAs of the 23 LGAs that constitute Rivers State were collated as widespread violence marred polls in the state.
In the 2015 presidential election, APC polled an insignificant 69,238 against PDP’s 1.4 million.