By Clifford Ndujihe
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Administrative Inquiry into the December 10, 2016 Rivers State re-run elections, has indicted security agencies in the violence and controversies that trailed the exercise.
According to the five-man panel, led by Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, National Commissioner; many security operatives were partisan and willfully obstructed the process.
The panel has AVM. A.T. Muázu, National commissioner; Professor Jacob Jatau, Resident Electoral Commissioner, FCT; Mr Tanimu Inuwa, Deputy Director, Legal as members; and Mr. Tajudeen Omolaja, Deputy Director, Discipline, as secretary.
The panel was mandated to: Review the preparations and deployment of personnel and materials on the eve of the election; identify the factors leading to the apparent failure of processes in some local government areas; determine the involvement and possible culpability of INEC officials in the conduct and outcome of the election; recommend appropriate sanctions against erring officials and advise the commission on appropriate measures going forward.
In its report, the committee blamed security agencies “for the failure of aspects of the elections in some local government areas.”
Specifically, it listed the key factors as obstrusive involvement of security agencies in the process, partisanship of Rivers INEC staff, non-compliance with standard deployment and other procedural guidelines among others.
Indicting the security agencies, the panel said: “One of the low points of the Rivers re-run elections of December 10, 2016 was the flagrant intervention of security operatives in the process. This was widely identified by staff of the commission and independent observers alike as one of the major factors that led to the failure of the process in some local government areas.
“There were too many security agencies involved in the process outside the framework of the Interagency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES). It was not clear whether many of them were acting as part of their various organisations or as groups and individuals serving political interests.
“Most importantly, many of them showed profound political partisanship. Ironically then, security operatives, who were expected to protect the process, turned on it. There were reported cases of willful obstruction of the process by security operatives, including snatching of materials and intimidating voters. In other cases, they refused to accompany and protect men and materials for the elections.
“But the most mind-boggling were cases of hostage taking, hijack of materials and physical attacks on INEC officials perpetrated by secruity operatives. Of singular note was a certain policeman named Akin Fakorede, who ostensibly is a commander of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS) in Rivers State. Mr. Fakorede first tried to lure INEC staff to travel with him from Porth Harcourt to Emohua LGA under the pretext of enabling them to collate results. But for the intervention of National Commissioners, we suspect that he would have put our staff in harms way.”