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Court orders INEC to halt collation of Rivers election results

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA – Following a suit that was lodged by the African Action Congress, AAC, the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to suspend the counting of results of the Rivers State Governorship and House of Assembly elections.

An electoral official count ballots at a polling station in Kaduna on March 9, 2019, after Nigeria’s governorship and state assembly elections. – For the second time in a fortnight, Nigerians went to the polls to elect governors in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states, all state assemblies and administrative councils in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to announce the results in a few days. (Photo by AFP)

The court, in a ruling by Justice Iyang Ekwo, said the electoral body should maintain status quo ante till Friday when it would hear and determine the merit of the substantive suit that was filed before it.

AAC lodged the suit alongside its governorship candidate in Rivers State, Mr. Biokpomabo Awara.

The order was sequel to an ex-parte motion the plaintiffs filed for an order to stop INEC from going ahead with its decision to count and collate pending results from 17 local government areas of the state.

INEC which earlier stopped the entire election process in Rivers State, had declared its intention to resume the collation of the results of the March 9, 2019 elections.

Decision of the electoral body to resume the collation process on Wednesday followed the report of a fact-finding committee it had set up to investigate allegations that elections in Rivers state was fraught with manifest irregularities.

Meanwhile, the court has ordered accelerated hearing of the suit by the AAC candidate who had since asked INEC to declare him winner, insisting that he garnered the highest number of valid votes cast.

Awara, who enjoyed the support of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, maintained that with results already on ground, he clearly defeated the incumbent Governor of the state and gubernatorial flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Nyesom Wike.

Specifically, the plaintiffs, prayed the high court for an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, collating or announcing the results of the suspended elections in Rivers State.

Though the court made interim preservative order to safeguard the subject matter of the suit, it however ordered INEC to appear on Friday for hearing of the case.

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