The Independent National Electoral Commission has blamed “some” soldiers and armed thugs for the violence and disruptions that forced the suspension of the electoral process in Rivers State.
INEC said the soldiers and armed thugs wanted to subvert the will of the people in Rivers State.
The commission in a statement on Saturday morning, the first on Rivers State since abruptly stopping collation exercise there on Sunday, said it had considered the report of its fact-finding committee to the oil-rich state.
The committee headed by Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine had sat in Port Harcourt between Monday and Tuesday and grilled local staff, security agencies, the NYSC and representatives of political parties.
The report of the committee was just considered on Friday, according to the commission’s statement signed by Festus Okoye, the spokesperson, on Tuesday.
“The commission its expresses displeasure with the role play by some soldiers and armed thugs in Rivers State disrupting the collation process and attempting to subvert the will of the people,” read the statement.
“Collation centres were invaded by some soldiers and armed gangs leading to the intimidation and unlawful arrest of election officials, thereby disrupting the collation process.
It said governorship and state house of assembly elections held in most of the polling units and results were announced.
“Results from 17 Local Government out of 23 are available and in commission’s custody,” added the statement. “Declarations and Returns for 21 state constituencies out of 32 were made prior to the suspension.”
The commission assured of its commitment to expeditious completion of the collation process where results were already announced and said that the security agencies at the national level will be engaged to ensure operatives become neutral and professional in elections.
The commission did not state whether supplementary elections will hold anywhere. In any case, supplementary elections may only be decided after collation of the available results shows no clear winner has emerged based on the principle of margin of lead.
It, however, said a timeline for the completion of the exercise will be announced on Wednesday.