* To issue cert of returns to Govs-elect on 27 March
*As Court stops Adamawa guber supplementary polls
By Ezeocha Nzeh and Blessing Ibunge (Port Harcourt)
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that it will resume the collation of Rivers State governorship election results on April April 2
Similarly, the March, 23 supplementary election in the 44 pulling units in Adamawa state will not hold as planned as INEC failed to vacates a court order stopping the conduct.
The commission also revealed that supplementary elections will hold in six states where results were declared inconclusive.
Addressing newsmen at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education (VEP), Festus Okoye, said that certain activities like engagement with security agencies and other stakeholders, issuance of guidelines on the resumption of collation of results and revalidation of polling agents and observers for collation of results would precede the collation of the results.
Okoye maintained that the commission would obey any court ruling on the issuance of a certificate of return to the Governor of Imo state, Rochas Okorocha, who it alleged forced the returning officer to declare him the winner of the Imo West senatorial district election.
On resumption of the electoral process in Rivers state, the commission said: “Following the violent disruption of the electoral process in Rivers during the governorship and state Assembly elections on March 9 and 10, 2019, the commission was compelled to suspend the process.
“The commission set up a fact-finding committee that visited Rivers State and submitted its report which revealed that while election could not hold in a few areas, it was successfully concluded in others with the declaration of winners in 21 state constituencies. Collation was ongoing at the time of the suspension of the process. The collation will hold between April 2 and 5, 2019,” the commission announced.
“Certificates of return in respect of governors-elect shall be presented by supervising National Commissioners of the respective states between March 27 and 29, 2019. They will be assisted by Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) and legal officers of the commission.
The commission also stated that supplementary elections will be conducted in 18 states of the federation on March 23, 2019, adding that observers and the media accredited by the commission to cover the 2019 general elections are free to observe the elections.
“Arising from the meeting held on March 19, 2019, between INEC and security agencies, the latter has given the assurances of adequate security, professional conduct and unimpeded access to all levels of the election and collation centres.”
On the pending cases in Bauchi and Adamawa states, the Commission noted: “Following the inconclusive governorship elections in the six states, the commission fixed supplementary elections for March 23, 2019. The supplementary governorship election earlier scheduled to hold in Bauchi State is now a subject of litigation which was initiated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, Mohammed Abubakar.
“An interlocutory injunction to suspend the process has been served on the commission by the Federal High Court, Abuja. While the commission has compiled in accordance with its policy to obey all court orders in deference to the rule of law, it has also taken urgent steps to vacate the order and dismiss the action.
“It should, however, be noted that the litigation and consequential order only affected the collation of results for the governorship election in Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area. Consequently, the supplementary elections will proceed as scheduled on Saturday, March 23 in the other 15 local government areas of Bauchi State as well as the Kirfi state constituency supplementary election in Kirfi Local Government Area.
“Similarly, the Adamawa State High Court issued an injunction restraining the commission from proceeding with the supplementary election following the application by the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), a registered political party which did not take part in the main election. While the commission has also complied with the order, it has equally taken steps to vacate it and dismiss the action.” the commission noted.