The Independent National Electoral Commission has said it has no power to cancel the results of the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.
It made this known to The PUNCH 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.
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.”
Presidency, militants rigged elections in Rivers, A’Ibom –APC
But in Lagos, the national leadership of the APC accused the Presidency and Niger Delta militants of rigging the elections in two states.
The APC, at a news conference by its Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, described the elections in the states as a mockery of democracy.
It therefore called on INEC to cancel the elections.
The party said, “It is clear that the script for the distortion of the Rivers elections was written by the Presidency and executed by the PDP, the police and militants
“As you would recollect, our party’s chapter in Rivers had written a petition complaining of the crass partisanship of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police in the presidential and National Assembly elections held on March 28.
“Because of this petition, the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, posted three police commissioners from the Force Headquarters in Abuja to oversee the April 11 elections in Rivers State.
“As soon as the President learnt of this development, he directed the IG to reverse the decision and instead requested that AIG Tunde Ogunsakin be posted to oversee the April 11 elections in Rivers State.”
The APC spokesman said as soon as electoral materials were distributed, a senior police officer in Akukutoru Local Government Area simply handed over the election materials for this local government to the militants.
He said upon learning of this development, Ogunshakin ordered that the materials should be recovered and handed over to the electoral officer for the LGA within the next hour.
Mohammed said, “Irked by A Ogunsakin’s directive, the Presidency ordered him to leave Rivers State within six hours and a pliant replacement was asked to take over from him.
“From then on, unimaginative terror was unleashed on the electorate, in particular on APC members and supporters. It was a straight fight between the police, the militants and the PDP on the one hand and the APC on the other hand.”
He said in former Governor Victor Attah’s ward in Ibesikpo Asutan, three contiguous polling units did not receive election materials.
Mohammed said that electoral officers even told the APC governorship candidate, Umana Umana, that the election process was marred by security failure, which allowed PDP thugs to hijack election materials and take them to private homes for thumb-printing.
The PDP however said it was wrong for the APC to call for the cancellation of the results because there was no way it would not have won the polls in the two states.
APC is wrong, says PDP
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metuh, told one our correspondents that the PDP might as well demand that the presidential election be canceled because of the irregularities it noticed.
He said, “There was no way we wouldn’t have won the elections in both Rivers and Akwa Ibom states because they are our stronghold.
“Maybe we should as well ask that the presidential election be canceled because of the irregularities we noticed during the conduct of the election.”
Metuh called on the APC to learn to accept the outcomes of elections
Meanwhile, THE announcement of the governorship election results by INEC enetered a second day on Monday with the APC winning additional six states and the PDP, three.
The states whose results were announced in APC’s favour are Zamfara, Jigawa, Adamawa, Niger, Nasarawa and Borno. The PDP had Rivers, Delta and Cross River states.
As of Sunday midnight, INEC had formally declared the candidates of the APC in 13 states as winners. The states are Sokoto, Kebbi, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi, Plateau, Yobe and Benue.
It also declared the PDP candidates in Gombe, Enugu, Ebonyi and Akwa Ibom victorious.
When the results began to trickle in between 1pm and 7pm on Monday, INEC announced more APC candidates as winners.
In Nasarawa State, Governor Tanko Al-Makura scored 309, 746 votes to beat his closest rival,Yusuf Agasi of the PDP, who had 178, 983 votes.
Abdulaziz Yari scored 716,964 votes while Mamuda Shinkafi of the PDP in Zamfara State had 201,938 votes.
Also in Jigawa, Badaru Abubakar defeated Aminu Ringim of the PDP by polling 648, 045 votes. Ringim had 479,447 votes.
INEC merely confirned unofficial reports of Jibrilla Bindow, Abubakar Bello and Kashim Shettima’s victories in Adamawa, Niger and Borno states.
Bindow defeated PDP’s Nuhu Ribadu by scoring 362,329 votes. Ribadu had 98,917 votes.
While Bello had 593,702 votes, Umar Nasco of the PDP in Niger State had 239,770 votes.
In Borno State, Shettima scored 649, 913 votes as against 34,005 votes by Gambo Lawan of the PDP.
The PDP candidates however floored their APC counterparts in Rivers, Delta and Cross River states.
In Rivers State, a former Minister of State for Education and PDP torch-bearer, Nyesom Wike, trounced APC’s Dakuku Peterside having polled 1,029,102 votes. Dakuku had 124,896 votes.
In Delta State PDP’s Ifeanyi Okowa became governor-elect after defeating APC’s O’tega Emerhor by garnering 724,680 votes. Emerhor had 67, 825 votes.
Benedict Ayade of the PDP in Cross River also handed defeat to his APC closest rival Odey Ochicha. He polled 342,016 votes as against Ochicha’s 53,983.
INEC which also updated the results of the Benue State election, had declared the Imo, Abia and Taraba state governorship results inconclusive.
As of Sunday night when the Imo results were announced uncompleted, Governor Rochas Okorocha of the APC was leading his PDP counterpart and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha.
APC’s candidate in Taraba State, Jummai Alhassan, was also leading other candidates in the state.