U.S., U.K. warn against tampering with polls results

John_Kerry_official_Secretary_of_State_portraitThe United States and the United Kingdom yesterday warned against any attempt to undermine the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

A joint statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that “there are disturbing indications that the collation process—where the votes are finally counted—may be subject to deliberate political interference”.

But, the spokesperson of the INEC Chairman Attahiru Jega, Mr Kayode Idowu, said there was no basis to suggest that there was any interference.

The joint statement reads: “Our governments welcome the largely peaceful vote on March 28.  The Nigerian people have shown a commendable determination to register their vote and choose their leaders.

”So far, we have seen no evidence of systemic manipulation of the process.  But there are disturbing indications that the collation process—where the votes are finally counted—may be subject to deliberate political interference.  This would contravene the letter and spirit of the Abuja Accord, to which both major parties committed themselves.

”The Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom would be very concerned by any attempts to undermine the independence of the Electoral Commission (INEC), or its Chairman, Professor Jega; or in any way distort the expressed will of the Nigerian people.”

Idowu, in an interview with the AFP, said “there is absolutely no basis” to talk of interference after a warning from Secretary of State John Kerry and his British counterpart Philip Hammond.

“There is no interference at all. We are about to start the collation process. We have no evidence of political interference,” he said.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) believes INEC officials and agents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have interfered with the collation in Akwa Ibom and Rivers states.

APC governorship candidate in Rivers State Dr. Dakuku Peterside yesterday urged men of goodwill to rise and save Rivers State from the clutches of evil and an impending doom. In a statement, he described last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections in the state as a farce and called on Jega to cancel the results.  He said reports from every part of the state showed that voting did not take place.

According to the APC candidate, members of the PDP took result sheets to private homes and entered fake results. He reminded Nigerians that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere, urging everybody to rise in defence of the disenfranchised, people of Rivers State.

Peterside said: “I did not vote, just like all our members, including Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. I was only accredited and shortly after, hoodlums suspected to be PDP thugs invaded the place. The boys who invaded the centre were about 50 armed youths and the same thing was repeated in the entire Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency and across Rivers State.

“Our people refused to vote because they knew that result sheets were in the hands and homes of PDP members. I led over 40, 000 people to INEC office to register our protest. I am sure our protest against this daylight robbery is receiving attention. Prof. Jega said during a news conference that he has received our protest letter.

“Even our opponents know that there was no election in Rivers State. All we are asking for is that we should be given opportunity to cast our votes like every other country. Let me say that I am very sure Buhari would have done well if elections had held in Rivers State.

“We are pleading with the world because what is happening in our state is most tragic. We have never had this level of violence; it is unprecedented. Over 10 people died, over 50 APC members were arrested. It is clearly the desperation of some people who want to get power by all means, even at the cost of human lives. And if you do a check, you will discover that all those who died or sustained injuries are all members of the APC.

”All we are asking for is inclusion in our country’s electoral process. But we need to have confidence in the election umpires. We don’t have confidence in Mrs Gesila Khan. Sadly, she has not shown that she is a woman of integrity and that is worrisome. But I am optimistic that we will get justice because the world already knows. So, we are looking forward to a new date to cast our votes”.

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