INEC panics, readies to conclude Rivers rerun elections

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*INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu

Following a threat by the senate to halt plenary should the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) fail to conduct the outstanding parliamentary elections in Rivers State, the electoral body has expressed readiness to carry out the exercise.

Speaking in Abuja, the Deputy Director of Voter Education and Publicity in the commission, Mr. Nick Dazang assured that with the ultimatum by the lawmakers, INEC would meet with the stakeholders to review the situation and agree on a date.

As a sign of good faith, he said INEC had engaged stakeholders in several meetings in Abuja and in the state on the issue.

NAN quotes Dazang as saying that the Commission had always been ready to conclude the inconclusive parliamentary elections in Rivers, but subject to conducive environment for the exercise.

Dazang said it was unfortunate that in spite of the commission’s readiness for the elections, some stakeholders in the state were uncooperative, not helping to create peaceful environment needed for conduct of the exercise.

“In fact, at a point we articulated a road map of activities that would climax with the National and State Assembly elections in the state.

“Sadly, on the eve of the proposed schedule for the conduct of the elections in that state, our office in one of the local government areas of the state was razed down.

“In spite of this, we have remained resolute in our determination and have continued to engage with stakeholders.

“Our determination is further underscored by the fact that recently, the commission directed all relevant departments to submit their inputs for the Rivers National and State Assembly elections,” he said.

The deputy director said that INEC’s initial plan was to conclude all suspended elections before the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states in September and November, respectively.

“This was however truncated by the spate of violence particularly in Rivers and the inflammatory rhetoric of some stakeholders.”

The re-run elections in the state ordered by the judiciary and scheduled for March 19, 2016 was cancelled in parts of the state due to high level of violence that characterised the exercise.

Thereafter, INEC fixed July 31 to conclude the elections, but was again forced to postpone the exercise following reports of violence ahead of the polls.

It, therefore, resolved that it would return to the state to conclude the elections only when the state government and all stakeholders in the state gave undertaking of adequate security during the period the exercise would be conducted.

Dazing said neither the Rivers State government nor the stakeholders had given the undertaking.

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