" ITREALMS: CS Situation Room faults INEC results, says votes didn’t match - ITREALMS

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

CS Situation Room faults INEC results, says votes didn’t match - ITREALMS

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) has observed that the national collation and announcement of the Presidential election results for the election conducted on 23rd February 2019 has some discrepancies, reports ITREALMS.

The civil society group in its fourth interim statement made available to ITREALMS, said they were compelled to make some observations cutting across lack of vote tallying, claims of duress by INEC officials, and lack of transparency at ward collation, among others.

The statement endorsed by the Mr. Clement Nwankwo, the Executive Director, Policy & Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) & Convener, Nigeria Civil Society SituationRoom said that on the lack of vote tallying, that some of the numbers/votes announced so far by State Returning Officers at the INEC National Collation Centre in Abuja raised concerns. 
The group said that considering there was simultaneous accreditation and voting, a careful look at some of the figures of accredited voters and the total number of votes cast showed discrepancies. 

They pointed out that as at 6:47pm Tuesday 26th February, the discrepancy was a total of 513,214, in 27 States including Nasarawa, Kogi, Adamawa, Edo States and the FCT. 

"Situation Room calls on INEC to transparently address this confusion before the completion of result tabulation," the convener said.

Also, he said there is a lack of clarity in the rationale for cancellation of polls, noting that they recorded 1,084,358 cancelled votes across 1175 polling units in 18 States. 

They suspected the pattern used in this cancellation requires some close interrogation to show fairness and objectivity, insisting that the reasons provided for the cancelled votes include over voting, card reader malfunction and violence. 

"Situation Room demands that INEC provide clarification on rationale and compliance with its Guidelines regarding cancellation of polls. Accusation that these cancellations may have been contrived to supress votes need to be taken seriously and addressed before the close of tabulation. Situation Room calls on INEC to address the discrepancies in the vote tally and provide cogent explanations for the rejected votes and clearly clarify what amounts to cancelled votes," he said.

On the claims of duress by INEC officials, Situation Room observed that INEC officials and adhoc staff serving in varying capacities have alleged harassment and intimidation in the course of the collation process and undue pressure in the announcement of results. 

Notable, they said, was that of the Returning Officer for Imo West Senatorial District, Prof. Francis Ibeawuchi, who disclosed that threats were made to his life, to ensure the return of the incumbent Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, as the winner of the Senatorial election in the district.

Also, in Ikwerre Local Government of Rivers State, the Electoral Officer, Mary Efeture Imawuya alleged that Army Personnel invaded the RAC Centre and held her hostage, in a bid to seize the election results. 

While in Emohua Local Government of Rivers State, the Electoral Officer, Kenneth Etah claimed that military personnel invaded the local INEC office and commenced shooting, thereby creating an environment too violent for the collation process to be carried out.

Situation Room notes that INEC has failed to publicly acknowledge the occurrence of these incidents in the past few days and owe it to its staff and Nigerians, to express concern over these threats and acts of violence and take necessary steps to ensure the security of INEC personnel. Furthermore the implication of this on the sanctity of the ballot must be transparently dealt with.

Situation Room calls on INEC to give immediate attention to the issue of its officials who were forced to announce inaccurate results and also take steps to ensure their safety.

Further, on the transparency at ward collation, Situation Room said it had deployed observers in all 8,809 Electoral Wards across the country and received reports of observers being restricted from several Ward Collation Centres. 

"For instance, our Observers were denied access to 10 Ward Collation Centres in Abia State, 7 in Lagos State and 5 in Akwa Ibom and Ogun States respectively. Other reports received indicate that there was no collation in some Wards; rather, polling unit results were directly collated at Local Government level, raising questions about violation of the collation process," he said.
 The convener, therefore urged Nigerians to be peaceful and law abiding, while calling on political parties and candidates who are aggrieved with the electoral process to ensure that they utilise legally recognised channels to seek redress.

The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI) Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, Partners for Electoral Reform, JDPC and YIAGA Africa Others are Development Dynamics, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Stakeholders Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, CITAD,Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), CISLAC, and several other CSOs numbering more than seventy.

Chuks Egbune/DoP

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