Ahead of the December 10, 2016 National Assembly rerun election in Rivers State, the Independent National Electoral Commission has said that the allegations made by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, that the commission planned to rig the rerun election could endanger the lives of the commission’s workers.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of INEC, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, told Saturday PUNCH that the claims by Wike that INEC had given the result sheets of the election to the APC could endanger the lives of the commission’s personnel on election duties in view of the political and security situation in the state.
He said that the political class should note that the bulk of INEC personnel deployed for election duties are young graduates doing their one-year compulsory National Youths Service Corps programme.
According to him, the commission, the politicians and the entire country should consider it a duty to protect the NYSC members.
Oyekanmi, who appealed to the governor to approach the commission for clarifications on issues when necessary, said that making “unsubstantiated” allegations against the commission was not good for the country and the political process.
He said, “You know, we have observed that the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has been making some allegations against INEC. The most recent has been this allegation that we have given the result sheet of the yet-to-be conducted Rivers rerun election to a particular candidate. We want to assert very strongly that INEC is not into the business of rigging election.
“And we also want to advise the governor to please stop making this type of allegation, because it is capable of jeopardising the safety of the INEC staff, given the political and security situation of Rivers State.
“If the governor needs clarifications, our doors are open, and we will explain to him. But making these unsubstantiated allegations against the commission is not good for the country and it is not good for the political process.”
Meanwhile, the Kano State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, and Wike on Friday engaged each other in a war of words.
Ganduje, who is the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Campaign Council for the rerun, had told State House correspondents that free and fair elections were not normal in the state, assuring, however, that efforts would be made this time to make election credible in the state.
However, Wike, in his reaction, said, “It is unfortunate if he (Ganduje) said so. As far as I am concerned, elections have been normal in my part of the country. All we are asking for is free and fair election.
“Is Governor Ganduje speaking on behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission? Is he the one conducting the elections now? I have respect for him as an elderly person, but his statement is unfortunate.”