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Rivers Gov Polls Result Underway …As Court Declines To Stop Collation …Why INEC Will Not Change REC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it would go ahead with the collation of results from the Governorship/State Assembly elections conducted in Rivers State on March 9, 2019.

The confirmation came on the heels of a purported court injunction secured by two governorship candidates stopping the commission from continuing with the process.

Speaking on the matter, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Voter Education and Publicity Committee, Festus Okoye said INEC is not aware of any court order barring it from completing the exercise.

He said the commission will go ahead with the collation of results and announce a winner at the completion of the process.

The social media had been awashed with reports of court injunction purportedly procured by candidates of certain political parties seeking to stop the electoral process in the state.

However, INEC in Rivers State has clarified that the collation will not start on Wednesday March 20 as earlier stated.

According to the commission, in a statement by its Public Relations Officer in the State, Geraldine Ekenimor what was being expected on Wednesday is the detailed timeline of activities on the resumption of the electoral process which will be published by the National Headquarters of INEC in Abuja.

She also clarified that there would be no stakeholders meeting or press briefing on the issues.

Also, Oluwole Osaze, INEC Director of Education and Publicity has said the electoral process in Rivers would be concluded because it was not declared inconclusive.

According to him, voting was generally peaceful in most polling units and declaration of results had been made, stressing that in certain areas voting was concluded awaiting collation before the suspension of the exercise.

“We will complete the process,” he said.

Meanwhile, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja refused an exparte motion to stop the collation of results of Rivers State Governorship and House of Assembly election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on March 9, 2019.

INEC had last week following the report of its fact finding committee on Rivers election fixed Wednesday, March 20, for the resumption of collation, conclusion and announcement of the remaining results in the election.

Following the announcement, the African Action Congress (AAC), Engr. Biokpomabo Awara and Ben-Gurion Peter, filed an exparte application before the court, seeking to stop INEC from resuming collation of the election results.

Defendants in the exparte application are the INEC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In a bench ruling, Justice Ekwo who refused to grant the application held that the reliefs sought by the applicants are “such that the court cannot grant without hearing from the other party”.

Justice Ekwo however ordered the plaintiffs to put the respondents on notice to come and show cause why the prayers of the plaintiffs should not be granted.

The judge subsequently adjourned till March 25 for parties to address him on the propriety or otherwise of granting the order.

The plaintiffs represented by Tawo Tawo SAN, in an exparte application moved in the court Wednesday, prayed for an order to stop INEC from going ahead to resume, conclude and announce the results of the March 9 election.

Earlier, Justice Ekwo had drawn the attention of the plaintiffs’ counsel to social media reports to the effect that he had already stopped the electoral body from going ahead to take further action on the March 9, Governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State.

While stating that there is no judge by the name Inyang Ewa, who was alleged to have granted the purported order, he warned counsel and litigants from spreading false news.

Justice Ekwo said it was wrong for anybody or group to resort to self help because such self help had been prohibited in the judiciary.

The plaintiffs had in their originating summons prayed the court to stop INEC from resuming collation and conclusion of the March 9 election results in Rivers State and from declaring any person or group as winners of the poll.

The plaintiffs specifically applied for an order compelling the electoral body to maintain the inconclusiveness of the election as announced earlier.

Similarly, the Independent National Electoral Commission has said that it would not remove its Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers State, Obo Effanga, saying that it does not take directive from anybody.

 INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, stated this while responding to an enquiry on the statement by the spokesman for the APC, Lanre Issa-Onilu, that the redeployment of Effanga became necessary to prevent him from skewing the elections process in favour of the opposition.

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