INEC seeks probe of military role in Rivers election
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called for a thorough investigation of the role of the military personnel involvement in the conduct of last Saturday’s re-run elections in Rivers State and the prosecution of those found culpable in the alleged sundry infractions during the polls.
This came amidst widespread criticisms of security agencies during the re-run elections, including their alleged unsavory roles while in full military gear.
Addressing reporters yesterday at a capacity development workshop for reporters in Abuja, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu urged the authorities of the security agencies to “investigate all violations of the nation’s laws before, during and after the re-run elections in Rivers state.”
Prof. Yakubu said INEC would work with the security agencies to specifically “uncover and punish those that disrupted the distribution of election materials in Okrika and Gokana, the heavy shooting reported in Biata and Bodo, the hijacking of materials in Andoni, Oyibo and Ogu-Bolu, and the hostage-taking in Akoku Toru.
He called on the authorities to also investigate the physical attack and kidnapping of election personnel resulting in the loss of ballot paper consignment for Ward 16 in Khana Local Council and the unmasking of the identity of the thugs that threatened to burn the commission’s personnel inside the vehicles conveying them to the polling units in Etche resulting in the massive disruption that made it impossible for elections to be conducted in substantial parts of the federal and state constituencies in the local council.
The chairman disclosed that the commission was on the height of instituting an administrative inquiry as part of a comprehensive review of the Rivers re-run elections following reports of infractions by some INEC staff ranging from absence from their duty posts to partisanship in the discharge of their duties.
He promised that any INEC worker found to have disobeyed clear rules and regulations would be appropriately sanctioned, saying “we will never sweep anything under the carpet.”
The INEC chairman also dismissed allegations of undue interference from the presidency in order for the commission to influence the result of elections in favour of the ruling party.
“I have never been approached by anybody to influence decisions, and I cannot be intimidated by anybody.”Fielding sundry questions including the use of financial inducement for votes, Yakubu said that the development was against the laws of the country which, according to him, could be dealt with by the establishment of an electoral tribunal.
He said that there was need to embark on intensive awareness campaign with a view to educating voters on the implications of selling their votes at the polling units.
Yakubu said the commission was also considering the introduction of online registration of voters in the country, adding that the development would make it possible for voters to register in the future with their names while the electoral umpire will keep records of vital information such as date of birth among other details.
A resource person and former Editor of The Guardian, Mr. Martins Oloja, in a lecture on “Advanced News/Feature Writing Skills and Ethics from Media Practitioners”, urged reporters to always endeavour to pay attention to details in the reportage of electoral matters.
Oloja who is now a member of the Editorial Board of the newspaper, stressed the need for newsmen to be “document minded” and shift from routine news stories to what he called analytical reportage of events during election backed by data and metrics to tell political stories.