The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed April 13 for supplementary election in Rivers State.
Besides, the commission is to resume collation of results of the last governorship and state Assembly elections from April 2 to 5.
INEC, however, noted that election had been concluded in 21 state constituencies.
The collation of the results for the election held on March 9 was suspended due to violence.
The Commission set up a Fact-Finding Committee that visited the state and submitted its report which revealed that while election could not hold in a few areas, they were successfully concluded in others with the declaration of winners in 21 state constituencies. Collation was ongoing at the time of the suspension of the process.
Announcing the outlined activities and timeline to resolve the electoral logjam in the state, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission will on March 30 meet with critical actors in the state after which the headquarters of the commission will release a guideline for the continuation of the process.
Okoye spoke at a press briefing at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja. He noted that there will also be an inter-agency meeting between the commission and others a day before the stakeholders meeting in Rivers.
Revalidation of observers, the commission said, will be done simultaneously in Abuja and Rivers State between March 25 and March 31.
The state chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) disagreed over the new timeline given by INEC to conclude elections in the states.
The APC, through its Publicity Secretary Chris Finebone declared that INEC’s announcement was suspect and received with mixed feelings, since the electoral commission had not shown sufficient good faith.
PDP Chairman Felix Obuah , in a press statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Jerry Needam stated that members of the party received the INEC’s news with optimism.
Rivers APC said: “As a major stakeholder in the Rivers State political space, APC received with mixed feelings, INEC’s timeline for concluding the governorship and House of Assembly elections that started on March 9. INEC has not shown sufficient good faith in the way it brought the collation to an abrupt stop (on March 10), without cogent, verifiable and convincing reasons.
“The supposed umpire (INEC) went ahead to announce that collation for 17 local government areas (out of 23 LGAs in Rivers) had been concluded, as against the records provided by our situation room. And to make matters worse, INEC refused, failed or neglected to name the said 17 LGAs where it claimed collation had been concluded.
“INEC curiously announced that it had dropped four LGAs’ collation officers confirmed to be PDP card-carrying members, without the umpire clearing the air about the status of the LGAs’ results the four ad hoc personnel supposedly collated.”
The main opposition APC, which backed the African Action Congress (AAC), since court order did not allow it to present candidates for the elections, also wondered why the four indicted collation officers of INEC would be unfit for the job, while the collations they conducted were acceptable.
The party said: “Why is INEC jittery to name the 17 local government areas, if not for the simple reason that some underhand dealings might have taken place, for which it is covering up? With the violation of the collation process by Governor Nyesom Wike when he stormed the Obio/Akpor LGA Collation Centre (at the council’s secretariat in Rumuodomaya, Port Harcourt in the night of March 9), where his Chief Security Officer (CSO) and security detail shot an army captain and other soldiers in the process, why does it seem that INEC’s body language is suggesting that Obio/Akpor LGA’s collation has been completed?
“To the APC, INEC is up to some mischief, clearly pointing to a clear determination to rig the overall results of the March 9 elections in favour of Wike and the PDP. The signs are visible enough to the blind and loud enough to the deaf. All the shenanigans so far exhibited by INEC only go to confirm that fear.”
PDP chairman said: “Even though we frown at the length of the timeline issued by INEC for the collation, declaration and conclusion of the election process in Rivers State, we received the news with optimism. Rivers State PDP is waiting patiently for the process to be concluded, because the people of Rivers State overwhelmingly voted for our party.
“We urge Rivers people to remain calm, as the mandate they freely gave to Governor Wike and the PDP on March 9 will be affirmed at the end of the collation process. Victory for the PDP will come at the end of the exercise. Rivers State is PDP. The people massively voted for the PDP, as all the figures indicate.”
On the letter by Rivers elders to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in Rivers political crisis, to prevent anarchy, Obuah berated the eminent personalities, including a former governor of the state, Chief Rufus Ada-George; and an ex- Culture Minister Alabo Tonye Graham-Douglas.
He described Ada-George, Graham-Douglas and others as self-acclaimed elders and card-carrying members of the APC, who, according to him, were allegedly working for Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi, a former Rivers governor.