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PDP alleges INEC wants Rivers guber polls cancelled

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[FILES] An electoral official looks at documents at the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on March 10, 2019. – Nigeria’s election authorities announced the suspension of activities in volatile opposition-held Rivers State on March 10 citing violence and threats to its staff, as tensions rise in the wake of closely-watched regional elections. Counting is continuing across the country after the March 9 elections for governors in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states, all state assemblies and administrative councils in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. Results are expected in the coming days. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of conspiracy, alleging that the electoral umpire had refused to assign the defence of Rivers State governorship election to any of its counsel in a bid to get the results cancelled.

The African Action Congress (AAC) candidate, Biokpomabo Awara, who came second in the March 9,2019 polls, with 179, 859 votes against Governor Nyesom Wike’s 886, 264 ballots, is at the Election Petitions Tribunal to challenging the outcome.

According to the Rivers PDP, the INEC is yet to assign the case to a lawyer, while expressing fear that when no defence is entered before the stipulated time frame, the tribunal would cancel the results for want of diligence.

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The chairman, Felix Obua, maintained that INEC had “deliberately refused to assign the case to any lawyer, knowing that entering of defence is time-barred. The plot is not to enter defence until the expiration of the required time so that the tribunal will have a good excuse to cancel the governorship election.

“We are telling the whole world that INEC has not assigned the defence of the results to any lawyer as we speak.”

The PDP standard-bearer emerged victorious with a margin of 712,405 recorded in 19 of the state’s 21 council areas. The ACC candidate only won two local councils of Oyigbo and Akuku Toru.

INEC had first suspended all electoral process in Rivers following violence allegedly caused by the activities of the military. Soldiers were accused of conniving with politicians and attempting to hijack the process but reportedly reportedly rejected by the people.

The electoral body later lifted the suspension and continued the collation of election results, which ended on April 3.

Reacting to his victory, Wike had thanked party members and supporters while paying tributes to those who lost their lives.

His words: “This victory, first of all, is dedicated to the Almighty God. This victory is dedicated to Rivers’ people and those who died in the course of protecting democracy, in course of protecting our votes to make sure that the will of the people stand.”

Reacting, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Obo Effanga, dismissed the claims, adding that the assignment of a lawyer was strictly the affairs of the national headquarters.

He warned politicians against raising “unfounded alarms.”


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