The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that it would never return for the fresh polls, in areas where voting was disrupted in the Rivers States polls of March 19, until there is an assurance of security and safety.
INEC in a statement, on Friday, signed by Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, Director, Voters’ Education and Publicity, said that it would not endanger the lives of its personnel including Youth Corps members, journalists and observers and others involved in the exercise.
“INEC will, at a date to be decided, conduct fresh elections starting with accreditation and voting in all Local Government Areas, Constituencies, Registration Areas and Polling Units where the exercise was disrupted before voting was concluded on Saturday 19th March, 2016,” the statement read.
“While the Commission is committed to conducting free, fair and credible elections, it hereby reiterates its resolve not to return to Rivers State (or anywhere else where there was a breakdown of law and order in the cause of conducting elections) until there is a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of credible elections.
“As a responsible organization, it will not expose its stakeholders especially voters, its officials, observers, media personnel to any danger and even where dates have been fixed and published, it will not hesitate to again suspend the exercise where there is a clear danger or credible threat of a breakdown of law and order.
“The Commission restates its earlier decision to uphold the declarations and returns made in the Federal and State Constituencies where the exercise had been concluded.
“Similarly, the Commission will conclude and make returns in constituencies where it is satisfied that voting and collation were done in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and our Guidelines.”
INEC admitted “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.”
However, it insisted that no fake result sheet was used, dismissing allegations by the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress.
“The Commission wishes to emphatically state that there were no fake result sheets or any fake materials used in the conduct of the elections,” it said.
“The Commission condemns in no uncertain terms all those who have been spewing hate speeches and making incendiary statements, which no doubt exacerbated an already tense situation.
“It will like to again commiserate with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the family, friends and colleagues of Samuel Dumebi Okonta, the Corps member who unfortunately lost his life in this patriotic service as a poll official. May his soul rest in peace.”