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‘We’ll Take Drastic Measures’ — INEC Talks Tough After PDP Forced Election Officials To Alter Abia Guber Results

The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has issued a strong warning to politicians and their thugs who attempted to alter the results of Saturday’s governorship election in Abia State by holding its officials hostage.

Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, said the commission would take “drastic measures” against attempts by thugs to force its officers to declare questionable results received from polling units across Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State on Sunday.

Okoye, addressing a press conference at the national situation room situated at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, noted that the democratic process must be protected at all costs and that any attempt to undermine it will not be tolerated by the commission.

“Earlier today, the Commission alerted the nation to the invasion of our Obingwa Local Government Area office in Abia State by thugs during the collation of results for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.

“In contention was the collated result from the Registration Areas for the Governorship election in that Local Government Area. The intention was to force the collation of these contentious results. The behaviour of these thugs is unacceptable and there will be a thorough review of the results.

“The Commission does not take the patience of citizens for granted and will continue to take steps to protect the integrity of the vote and consolidate the progress made so far in the electoral process,” he said.

Okoye’s statement came hours after THE WHISTLER broke the news of the invasion of the collation center by political thugs.

Hours after, Yiaga Africa, a non-profit civic hub that promotes democratic governance, confirmed that the political thugs behind the invasion were affiliated with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

The civic hub reported that “party agents for the PDP and security agents asked observers and other party agents, APC, Accord and APGA to exit the collation centre” in an apparent effort to alter results of the election.

THE WHISTLER had reported that the collation center was invaded moments after the Abia State Governor, whose former Chief of Staff is the candidate of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), visited the venue.

Meanwhile, INEC at the press briefing noted that the use of violence and coercion to alter election results is a serious violation of the democratic process and undermines the credibility of elections.

It called on all political parties and their supporters to respect the rule of law and to refrain from any actions that could further disrupt the electoral process.

Okoye said INEC did its best to prevent disruption of the governorship and state assembly elections that were held across 28 states.

“However, for difficult and unforeseen circumstances outside the Commission’s control, we did our best to respond, especially where processes were disrupted by actors over whom we have little or no control. Such diabolical behaviour did not only affect citizens but also impacted on the Commission’s officials and processes.

“INEC staff, both regular and ad hoc were victims of violence. Some of our staff were abducted, harassed, intimidated, hospitalized and in one case killed. Nevertheless, where we could not deploy to enable citizens to vote, the Commission took the decision to remobilize to such places to enable citizens to exercise their franchise.

“Unfortunately, we could not extend the same to areas where voting was disrupted, and election materials destroyed. We are keeping our eyes on those areas and would not hesitate to remobilize where the outcome of the election is affected.

“At the moment, collation of results and declaration of winners for the 28 Governorship and 993 State Assembly elections are ongoing nationwide. We are committed to the sanctity of the process and will not hesitate to take drastic measures against proven irregularities. Allegations of voter inducement, harassment and manipulation of results will be reviewed and addressed.”



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