MALACHY UZENDU, Deputy Editor and AARON AMEH, ADEKUNLE ADESUJI, EUCLID MYKE, Abuja
INDEPENDENT National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday announced that elections were held yesterday in 350 polling units across the country, using manual-accreditation only process.
This was even as the commission advised that “election results” making the round shoud be discountenanced, stressing that apart from two states where the collation officers have arrived Abuja, none of the collation officers bearing the results from the other states have arrived Abuja.
National Chairman of the commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, while updating the media on Saturday presidential election, warned against sending “fake and uncertified” election results either on the social media or other platforms, stressing that only results certified by the commission should be released.
Even as an army of journalists kept vigil at the International Conference Center (ICC), Abuja, venue of the national collation center, Jega gave the hint that elections would be released as from today “but when the collation officers arrive and we are ready to start the collation, we shall invite the media and other stakeholders to set up their facilities before we can do so”.
He commended Nigerians for the large turn out for voting, but lamented that in the less than 0.025 per cent of the 150,000 polling stations, where the Card Reader failed to work, the commission has ordered manual-only accreditation.
Providing details of the affected states, the INEC boss stated that Lagos had 90 polling units, Kebbi 16, Adamawa 25, Niger 25, Yobe 37, Borno 8, Jigawa 37, Kano 13, Taraba 116 and 2 polling units in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He stated that prior to taking decisions on these states, directives was given on Saturday for same manual-only accreditation to be conducted in affected some polling stations in Osun, Kebbi, Ekiti, Adamawa, Borno, Jigawa, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states.
He expressed joy that “elections went on smoothly in substantial number of polling units across the country, including the north east where the commission was able to conduct voting for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states”.
During the question and answer session Prof Jega stated: “The law prohibits people from declaring the results, but people are allowed to share the results they have received from the field. It is only INEC that is supposed to put all these together and make a final declaration. When one begins to put the results together and announced the results, one will run foul of the law.
“The results we use for collation would be used as soon as the Collation Officer bring the original results to us. We have made provisions for the Collation Officers to scan the results and send to us in advance but we shall not announce the results until we see the original results and compare them with what they had sent electronically to us.
“As we speak now, it is only two states that have been collated. Many others are at 90 per cent collation. It is better that we remain here and as they come, we collate the results.
“And as I stated before, we will not commence collation unless stakeholders are adequately informed and until the media are informed. We have demarcated the area and there is ample space for the media to be accommodated.
“Election were not perfect, but we believe we have done well, but we still leave room for improvements. That is why we have observers. What we get from them, will help us to make improvements.
“On the question you asked, oe of the parties said PDP is winning in 23 states. We don’t know the source of their information but we have to be careful about what we announce, we must follow the law. I know that very few states have collated their results. You have to publish election results announced only by the INEC.
“We have received allegations and accusations about supplanting of our trained ad-hoc staff but we are investigating such allegation. But we plead with the complainants to give us the polling station, the ward or better information that will assist us in the investigation. We have the data and it is very easy to cross-check and confirm supplanting.
“I can tell you certainly that the number of failed Card Reader surprised us. That leaves a question mark as to whether untrained people supplanted the trained staff and that is why we are investigating.
“In 2011 we dealt with transporters individually and we had challenges, which was why this year, we decided to deal with the officials of the NURTW which recommended reputable transporters which we used. Inspite of that, we had witnessed serious lapses.
“In the FCT for instance, the transporters, transported the field officers to the RACS but in the morning, they insisted we pay them 100 per cent before they take them to the polling units, inspite of the agreement we had with the NURTW and we have no means of knowing what they can do.
“We are not under any pressure to declare inconclusive election as alleged. Who would be interested in such results?
“I have no information about the Military interfering or working for any political party. The Imo state governor should be asked such a question.
“The recourse to reversal to manual was as a result of the field we got, that the Card Readers were not functioning well. That was why we issued supplementary guidelines to ensure that we capture the failed Card Readers.
“From statistics, we did not have more than 0.025 per cent of failed Card Readers. We deployed over 150,000 and 0.025 is insignificant. But if out of 150,000 Card Readers and only 374 did not work, it is significant achievement but we have avoided the overheating of the process which was why we reviewed the guidelines”.