APC seeks polls’ cancellation in Akwa Ibom, Rivers

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states have urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cancel Saturday’s polls.

APC supporters in Rivers yesterday protested what they described as electoral fraud.

The protest, which started from the Government House, Port Harcourt to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) caused a major traffic jam at the popular Aba road express way.

The protest was led by party bigwigs, including its governorship candidate, Dr Dakuku Peterside, his running mate Honourable Asita and Senator Magnus Abe.

They said they decided to lead the protest to tell the world that APC in Rivers State did not participate in Saturday’s elections.

They alleged that result sheets were not distributed in all the units in Rivers State, adding that Police and INEC officials collaborated in distributing fake result sheets in all the polling units.

The Caretaker Committee Chairman of Ogu/Bolo Local government, Hon. Mina Tende who led his supporters to the INEC office said result sheets were missing.

He said as the local government chairman, he went to INEC office by 2pm on Saturday to complain about the situation but nobody listened to him.

Tende alleged that when agents of PDP realised that the people were demanding for the result sheets, they started distributing fake copies.

“We are here to tell the world that there was no election in Rivers State, our people boycotted the election and such election cannot be called election.

“There were two observers at the INEC office in Ogu/Bolo and I told them I have never seen it this way.

“I also told the resident electoral commissioner that I expected her to go round and see things for herself. In other way, there was a connivance to do what they did, and it has been confirmed that INEC was paid N15 million in each LGA for buying the result sheets.”

Another APC chieftain, Hon Welendu Amadi, a former local government chairman in Ikwerre said: “We are saying that the election did not hold. Everybody in Rivers State knows that by numerical strength, we have more population than PDP. We pulled out because we don’t know where the result will be written from.”

APC leaders and members moved round Port Harcourt and later got to the headquarters of the INEC on Aba Road and called for fresh elections and transfer of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dame Gesila Khan, for taking sides with the leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Khan was also accused of releasing the original result sheets to the Rivers governorship candidate of the PDP, Chief Nyesom Wike, a former Minister of State for Education, and other leaders of the party, with colour photocopies given to the Electoral Officers across the 23 LGAs of the state, which they used to write fake results, while Wike later submitted to INEC for collation, the “manufactured” results on original result sheets.

Khan, however, said: “It is a lie and cheap blackmail. It is not possible to hand over original result sheets to politicians, especially with the security numbers on them. They should concentrate on campaigning and allow me to do my job.”

The protesters ignored the heavy security on Aba Road, especially between Waterlines Bus Stop and GRA Junction, thereby moving to the gate of the INEC headquarters, near the corporate headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The protesters, who were armed with placards with various inscriptions, were chanting: “We no go gree.”

Some of the placards read: “Change Rivers REC of INEC now, Prof. Jega”, “Electoral officers in Rivers State compromising with PDP”, “INEC in Rivers State is an arm of PDP”, “PDP members accredited as INEC ad hoc staff” and “Rivers INEC, where are our votes?”

Peterside and some leaders of the APC, who insisted on entering the INEC headquarters to meet with the REC and register their protest, were barred by fully-armed riot policemen.

The protesters then decided to sit at INEC’s gate on the ever-busy Port Harcourt-Aba-Enugu Expressway for about two hours.

The Rivers APC’s governorship candidate said: “What you are seeing here (at INEC headquarters in Port Harcourt ) are registered voters, who are supporters of the APC. They are here to protect the fact that yesterday (on Saturday), they were not allowed to exercise their franchise. They got to their various polling units, only to discover that there were no result sheets and without the result sheets, the election cannot be conducted in compliance with the Electoral Law.

“In substance, there were no elections anywhere in Rivers State, at least in 20 local government areas. Apart from the fact that there were no result sheets, the few places where accreditation was done, results were not announced at the polling booths, in accordance with the law. Results were not collated at the various LGAs. We later heard that results are being collated at various homes around the city of Port Harcourt and the suburbs.

“So, we are here to register our protest. There were no elections in Rivers State and violence was visited on our people. Over ten persons died in various locations in Rivers State. Over 55 of our members were arrested by the police and the military. We are calling for elections and not cancellation, because there was no election. All we asking for is that please, can we vote? There are two different things; we are saying there were no elections at all and not that elections were not held.

“We have been here for two hours and they said the REC is not available. Somebody who identified himself as the Administrative Secretary of INEC in Rivers State received our petition, but we are insisting that we must see the REC, because she played a key role in subverting the will of Rivers people.”

Abe, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), who is seeking re-election to represent Rivers Southeast Senatorial District, also stated that he was manhandled in his Bera-Ogoni hometown in Gokana Local Government Area  during Saturday’s election and did not vote, insisting that nobody voted in his senatorial district.

A member of the House of Representatives, who represents Akuku-Toru/Asari-Toru constituency of Rivers State, Dr. Dawari George, who is seeking re-election to return to the House, lamented that electoral materials for Saturday’s elections were hijacked by PDP’s thugs, in collaboration with INEC officials.

The APC in Akwa Ibom State called for the cancellation of the presidential and National Assembly elections held throughout the state on Saturday.

The party while calling for a fresh elections to be conducted in the state, also called for the redeployment of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Austin Okojie, from the state.

APC’s State Chairman, Dr. Amadu Attai, said after a review of the field reports on the elections across the state, the elections should be cancelled because they were not conducted in line with the guidelines issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of elections.

Attai spoke with reporters at the party’s office in Uyo, the state capital.

Apart from the irregularities recorded in the elections, the party also claimed that six of its members were killed by suspected Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) thugs through the assistance of the security agencies.

The chairman explained that APC agents who have been to the collation centres cannot find any INEC officials or trace their locations.

According to APC, thumb printing of ballot papers and collation of results were ongoing in the houses of the following government officials, Aniekan Umana, commissioner for information, in Abak; Governor Akpabio’s country home in Ukana; Don Etim, Commissioner for Works in Ikot Ekpene; Emmanuel Enoidom, commissioner for special duties in Etim Ekpo; Enobong Uwah, commissioner for environment in Uyo; Senator Effiong Bob in Nsit Ubium, and Eno Akpan, Commissioner for Lands and Town Planning in Ukanafun.

According to the party, virtually in every polling unit in Uyo Senatorial District (USD), result sheets were not available.

The result sheet, according to Attai, was one of the sensitive materials that must be used for the conduct of elections.

He said: “Some of the polling units in Uyo Senatorial District (USD) which insisted that there would be no voting without result sheets were later supplied with fake result sheets, which obviously lacked the barcode that the original result sheet has.”

The experience in Uyo Senatorial District, according to Attai, was replicated in most polling units in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District and Eket Senatorial District.

Attai said: “Most of the polling units did not have result sheets. In the few units where result sheets were provided they were found to be fake. Also, the results were not announced and pasted in the various units as required by the electoral law.

“We recall that on the eve of the elections, we issued a press statement alerting the world to the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had colluded with INEC officials to procure original result sheets which were already being filled up with fake results in the house of the state commissioner for special duty, Mr.  Emmanuel Enoidem, 24 hours before voting began nationwide.

“The elections were marred by other forms of irregularities. In Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, the Commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs in the administration of Godswill Akpabio, Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, went around with policemen and thugs beating up and maiming people while carting away voting materials at almost every polling unit in the area.

“Uwem Ita Etuk’s conduct during the elections is consistent with his threat of violence during in the lead-up to the elections. There were also widespread violence and other irregularities in polling units in Ukanafun, Ibiono Ibom, Nsit Atai, Uyo, Etinan, Obot Akara, Oruk Anam, Itu and other Local Government Areas across the state.

“In most parts of Ukanafun, INEC staff took sides and refused to be an umpire in the elections. In Unit 2 of Ward 10 in Ukanafun, INEC officials refused to record votes for the presidential candidate of the APC.

“Throughout Saturday night and up to 1 pm today (Sunday 29 March,1 pm), thumb printing of ballot papers and collation of results are ongoing in the houses of the following government officials: Aniekan Umana, commissioner for information, in Abak; Governor Akpabio’s country home in Ukana; Don Etim, Commissioner for Works in Ikot Ekpene; Emmanuel Enoidom, commissioner for special duties in Etim Ekpo; Enobong Uwah, commissioner for environment in Uyo; Senator Effiong Bob in Nsit Ubium, and Eno Akpan, Commissioner for Lands and Town Planning in Ukanafun, just to mention a few.”

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