The All Progressives Congress, APC, Governorship Candidate in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, has said that the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to suspend the announcement of election results in Rivers State, is illegal, and aimed to give Governor Nyesom Wike, the Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, a soft landing.
The Director, Strategic Communication of the Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation, Prince Tonye Princewill, wondered why the Commission failed to deal with areas where violence was reported, but chose to withhold the results of the entire State, when the Governorship Candidate of the AAC, and all others backed by the APC, were cruising to victory.
Princewill stated that the suspension of the announcement of the election results in the State, will not stop the dethronement of Wike, as the Governor of the State.
A statement signed by Princewill, in Abuja, reads: “INEC’s decision is illegal, because it is not supported by law. Section 26 of the Electoral Act, cited in the INEC Press Release, is not even applicable, because that section deals with a situation where a date has been appointed for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date, or it is impossible to conduct the election, as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, then the Commission may postpone the election.
“You can see that this provision does not apply to a situation, where an election has already been conducted or held, which is the present position in Rivers State.
“Since the elections in Rivers State have been held, Saturday, INEC is bound by virtue of section 27 of the Electoral Act, to announce the results. Having admitted in paragraph one of the Press Release, that it has conducted elections on the 9th of March, in Rivers State, INEC must by virtue of section 27 of the Electoral Act, announce the results.
“INEC’s decision to postpone the already held elections is ultra vires, illegal and unconstitutional. Such an unlawful decision can now be challenged in court, by virtue of section 26, subsection 5 of the Electoral Act. The challenge can be launched by any of the many contestants, at a court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction; and on such a legal challenge, the decision of INEC shall also be suspended, until the matter is determined.
“Our concerns about INEC and our lack of faith in the REC, are continually validated. This was same way they suspended a by-election we held a few months ago, when it was clear we were winning. Now, the AAC Candidate and several House of Assembly Candidates supported by APC, are cruising to victory, and they do it again.
“Can they not just step out of the way, and let the will of Rivers’ people prevail?
“Rivers State was largely peaceful. Why not deal with areas where you say you have violence, and leave the other results to go through? It is common sense. Why suspend a whole State? Wike must go. It is only a matter of time. We always knew this. Now the world knows it too. Not even INEC can save him.”
Earlier, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had kicked against the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, suspending the Governorship and Assembly elections, in Rivers State.
Rather, the PDP has called on the Electoral body, to announce the results of the polls, which it said had already been won and lost.
The main opposition party, described the suspension of the elections as manipulative schemes by INEC and the APC-led Federal Government.
A statement on Sunday, by the National Spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, flayed the suspension order by INEC, saying that, the results of the elections had already been collated.
The statement read: “The PDP alerts that this is a premeditated plan by the APC-led Federal Government, to use the instrument of INEC and Security Agencies, to truncate the wishes of the Rivers people, as already delivered at the polling units.
“Our party contends that elections have been concluded in Rivers State; results of the Governorship and House of Assembly polls have been declared at the various polling units, wards and local government collation centres, and all Returning Officers, and political parties in the ballot, conclusively have the figures.
“It is therefore, directly incumbent on INEC to declare the final results, instead of deliberately creating openings for the subversion of the final process; a development, which exposes the Commission’s complicity with the Buhari Presidency and the APC, to enmesh the election into unnecessary crisis.
“Our party cautions INEC, to note that a lot of innocent Nigerians have already been killed by the APC, in its desperation to forcefully take over Rivers State.
“The Commission should therefore, save the State from more bloodletting, by immediately declaring the results.
“Furthermore, the PDP calls on President Muhammadu Buhari, to reflect on the bloodletting that have characterised this election, which many Nigerians believe would have been averted, if he had signed the amendment to the Electoral Act.
“Mr. President should immediately call the Security Agencies (who have been annexed as Departments of the APC), to end their siege to our electoral process. Any further delay, is a recipe for escalation of crisis in our nation.