By Omeiza Ajayi
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it has begun collation of governorship election results in Kogi and Bayelsa states, reminding its officials of their oath of neutrality and the need to discharge their duties accordingly.
National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr Festus Okoye, in a preliminary statement issued Saturday night in Abuja added that INEC was in receipt of reports of violence in the two states, saying the Commission was collating ams evaluating the reports.
INEC equally called on security agents to scale up efforts at securing the process as the election moves into the very sensitive collation phase.
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The statement reads: “Voting has now closed in all polling units in the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States. The Commission deployed staff and materials in 4,352 polling units in the two States for the Governorship elections, Kogi West Senatorial rerun election and Brass I State Constituency supplementary election in Bayelsa State.
“In addition, National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners and other staff were deployed to monitor and supervise the elections. These field officers are regularly submitting real-time reports to the Commission on developments in the field.
“The Commission is carefully monitoring the processes. Reports from accredited observers and our officials in the field indicate that most voters who were willing to vote had the opportunity to do so. The Commission delivered materials to its two State offices in good time and made adequate preparations for the movement of staff and materials to the various voting locations.
“Unfortunately, however, despite all the efforts of the Commission and the promises of the political parties to promote peaceful elections, including several engagements with stakeholders and signing of Peace Accords, there are reports indicating that the process was in several places affected by thuggery and violence, which the Commission unequivocally condemns. We are still receiving, collating and evaluating these reports as we move into the critical phase of result collation.
“Results will be collated at Registration Areas, Local Government Areas and State levels. Staff of the Commission are ready to receive these results and stakeholders are advised to keep to their commitments to ensure peaceful conduct. All electoral officials are reminded of the oath of neutrality they subscribed to. The security agencies have been supportive so far, in the face of many challenges. The Commission calls on them to be even more vigilant at this critical juncture of result collation.
“Finally, the Commission calls on the general public to remain calm, while assuring voters in the two States of the resolve of the Commission to ensure that the elections are concluded fairly and credibly.”