By Emmanuel Aziken
Ahead of today’s enunciation of plans to conclude the Rivers State governorship election, the Tonye Cole campaign yesterday described recent assertions by the army as a vindication of its claim of a collaboration between the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and Governor Nyesom Wike.
The campaign in a four-point demand demanded an apology to the electorate, condemnation of the violence meted on all sides, a cancellation of ongoing plans and the immediate removal of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC and all principal officers of the commission in Rivers State.
The assertions came ahead of today’s expected disclosure by INEC on how it plans to conclude the governorship election that was suspended amidst confusion last week.
Speaking against the background of the revelation by the army that INEC acted in bad faith in its statement condemning the role of the military, the Tonye Cole All Progressives Congress, APC governorship campaign, yesterday said it had been vindicated in its assertions of a collaboration between INEC and the governor.
Spokesman of the campaign, Prince Tonye Princewill in a statement yesterday said:
“The recent terse statement made by the Nigerian Army exposed a wide gap in the relationship between the “independent” umpire and the security agencies, the same people who provide the conducive environment for INEC to operate. What is striking in the statement released by the Army is not that they simply dented INEC’s credibility, but that they called them out in a key aspect of their qualification that leaves them in tatters – their expected independence. How INEC recovers from this remains to be seen, but suffice to say that they can no longer speak with the freedom of the benefit of the doubt they have been enjoying, from not only Nigerians but from the international community as well.
“We in Rivers state know that there was no widespread violence that called for a total suspension of a whole state. If there was, how did INEC get results in 17 out of 23 LGAs? We know that widespread violence leaves a trail of death and destruction, if that was the case, how come INEC was able to declare results for Presidential elections when death and destruction were validated, but not for the governorship election when death and destruction were unconfirmed?
“If INEC wants to be a responsible umpire, beyond obeying the courts, they will now need to do the following:
“Apologize to Rivers people and the security agencies, especially the army, to rebuild the sense of joint duty needed to move forward.
-Issue a statement condemning the violence meted out to all sides with specific reference to the Governor’s illegal storming of a collation centre.
“Cancel the entire process and start again or pending the resolution of all legal matters, announce the results as a collation of results announced per LGA, up to the point of “suspension.”
“Change the REC and principal officers to conduct the election whenever the opportunity so provides, as there is no confidence in their neutrality and/or competence to conduct a free and fair election.”