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Anti-democratic elements tried to scuttle bye-elections, says INEC

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
07 December 2020   |   8:51 am
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described the bye-elections held across 11 states on Saturday as successful. The commission, however, lamented that some 'anti-democratic elements' tried to disrupt the processes. INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, stated this while giving updates on the elections held for…

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described the bye-elections held across 11 states on Saturday as successful.

The commission, however, lamented that some ‘anti-democratic elements’ tried to disrupt the processes.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, stated this while giving updates on the elections held for nine state house of assembly seats and six Senatorial seats.

“The commission regretted that in some areas, electoral officials were assaulted and materials destroyed, while in others there was resistance to the use of the Smart Card Readers. In yet other areas, Commission staff were prevented from deploying altogether.

“In fact, in one area in Lagos State, some people demanded for money from INEC staff before they would be allowed to deploy. These acts continue to reflect poorly on our country and denude the spirited efforts of the Commission to improve the electoral process under very difficult circumstances,” Okoye said.

Okoye confirmed that a number of electoral staff were assaulted during the polls while commiserating with families of the six policemen who lost their lives when the boat in which they were escorting election staff and materials capsized in Bayelsa State.

He said results of all the houses of assembly seats and four Senatorial seats had been successfully declared, except for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State.

According to him, the commission would remobilize and conclude the elections on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.

“One consequence of the lingering problem of election disruption manifested in the declaration of the bye-election for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State inconclusive. The Returning Officer declared the result inconclusive in line with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the Commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections.,” Okoye said.

“The election for Bakura State Constituency became inconclusive because the 2,181-vote margin between the two leading candidates – those of the PDP (18,645 votes) and APC (16,464) – is less than the total number of registered voters in 14 Polling Units where elections were cancelled or not held, which stands at 11,429.

“Consequently, by the “margin of lead principle”, the election could not be declared and no winner was returned. Voting in the 14 affected Polling Units was marred by over-voting, abduction of staff of the Commission, violence, assault occasioning grievous hurt against INEC officials, burning of INEC materials and snatching and carting away of sensitive electoral materials, resistance to the use of smart cards readers and obstruction of the electoral process.

“In order to ensure that the Supplementary Election is properly secured, the Commission is considering clustering the affected Polling Units to prevent the disruptions experienced on December 5, 2020.”

He warned those who have no business with the conduct of the Supplementary Election to keep away from the 14 Polling Units as only election staff, security agencies, voters, accredited observers and media, as well as polling agents, are entitled to be at the locations.

“The Commission is determined to conclude the election and will not condone further attacks on its staff and destruction of materials. We urge all the stakeholders to cooperate with the Commission for the successful conclusion of the Bakura State Constituency bye-election,” Okoye said.