The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that some of the commission’s staff were assaulted during the just concluded by-elections conducted across eleven states of the country.
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, in a communique on Sunday, said though the elections went generally well, some unscrupulous individuals were bent on disrupting some of the bye-elections.
He explained that in some areas, the staff of the Commission were assaulted and materials destroyed, while in others there was resistance to the use of the Smart Card Readers.
According to Mr Festus Okoye, in other areas, the Commission staff were prevented from deploying altogether. In fact, in one area in Lagos State, some people demanded money from INEC staff before they would be allowed to deploy.
“These acts continue to reflect poorly on our country and denude the spirited efforts of the Commission to improve the electoral process under very difficult circumstances,” he noted.
Mr Okoye said the Commission has commiserated with staff who were assaulted and has also extended its deep condolences to the families of the six policemen who lost their lives when the boat in which they were escorting election staff and materials capsized in Bayelsa State.
Bakura supplementary election
The INEC Commisioner, Mr Okoye revealed that one consequence of the lingering problem of election disruption manifested in the declaration of the bye-election for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State inconclusive.
“The Returning Officer declared the result inconclusive in line with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections.
“The election for Bakura State Constituency became inconclusive because the 2,181-vote margin between the two leading candidates – those of the PDP (18,645 votes) and APC (16,464) – is less than the total number of registered voters in 14 Polling Units where elections were cancelled or not held, which stands at 11,429.
“Consequently, by the “margin of lead principle”, the election could not be declared and no winner was returned.
“Voting in the 14 affected Polling Units was marred by over-voting, abduction of staff of the Commission, violence, assault occasioning grievous hurt against INEC officials, burning of INEC materials and snatching and carting away of sensitive electoral materials, resistance to the use of smart cards readers and obstruction of the electoral process,” Okoye revealed.
The Commissioner further stated that the Commission met on Sunday, 6th December 2020 and decided to remobilize and conclude the elections on Wednesday, 9th December 2020.
He stressed that in order to ensure that the Supplementary Election is properly secured, the Commission is considering clustering the affected Polling Units to prevent the disruptions experienced on 5th December 2020.
According to the INEC spokesman, the details for the conclusion of the bye-election in Bakura will be worked out by the INEC State Office in Gusau after consultation with stakeholders.
The bye-elections on Saturday involved nine State House of Assembly seats and six Senatorial seats.
The results of all the House of Assembly seats have been declared, except for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State.
Also, the results of four Senatorial seats have been successfully declared and INEC hopes that the results of the other Senatorial seats would be declared soon.
The Commission through its spokesman assured that as has become part of its practice, the results of the elections will be available on the INEC website during the week.