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Bye-Elections: Thugs Assaulted Electoral Staff, Demanded Money -INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has listed the challenges it faced during weekend’s 15 bye-elections conducted across 11 States of the Federation.

Lamenting how its staff were assaulted and in a particular case asked to pay money before they could carry on with assigned mandates, added that in some places, voters also resisted the use of smart card readers.

The bye-elections involved nine State House of Assembly seats and six Senatorial seats, with the result of the Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State declared inconclusive.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye said these in a statement on Sunday night.

He said; “Although the elections went generally well, the Commission regrets that some unscrupulous persons are still bent on disrupting the processes. In some areas, staff of the Commission were assaulted and materials destroyed, while in others there was resistance to the use of the Smart Card Readers.

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“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.

“Sadly, a number of the Commission’s staff were assaulted during the bye-elections. The Commission commiserates with them. The Commission also wishes to extend deep condolences to the 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”.

Adding that the results of four Senatorial seats have been successfully declared and the Commission hopes that the results of the other Senatorial seats would be declared soon.

The commission regretted that 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. 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”, he stated.

INEC said its management met on Sunday and decided to remobilize and conclude the elections on Wednesday, 9th December 2020.

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

“The Commission warns all 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”, the Commission stated.

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