CSOs, Rights groups protest, call for removal of Rivers REC

Civil Society Organisations, Human Rights Groups and stakeholders in Rivers State yesterday in Port Harcourt staged a protest following the suspension of the announcement of the results of the Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections in the state.

An electoral official looks at documents at the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on March 10, 2019. – Nigeria’s election authorities announced the suspension of activities in volatile opposition-held Rivers State on March 10 citing violence and threats to its staff, as tensions rise in the wake of closely-watched regional elections. Counting is continuing across the country after the March 9 elections for governors in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states, all state assemblies and administrative councils in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. Results are expected in the coming days. (Photo AFP) The groups, International Society for Social Justice and Human Rights, ISSJHR, Advocate for Peace, Electorate Rights Defence and Education Network, and others also called for the immediate completion and announcement of the collated result of the Saturday’s governorship election in Rivers State.

The protesters stormed the Aba-Port Harcourt express road with placard bearing: ‘A Partisan REC is a Disaster to Democracy,’ ‘A Partisan Umpire is Recipe for Anarchy,’ ‘Effanga has Failed Rivers State,’ ‘INEC, Please Conclude the Election for the Sake of Peace’. Speaking during the protest, Dr. Jackson Omenazu, the Chancellor of ISSJHR called for the immediately removal of the Residence Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr. Obo Effanga. Omenazu, noted that Effanga has shown bias by failing to announce result of election that the collation process has been concluded.

He urged the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, to remove and prosecute the REC in the state for violating the electoral process. “We are calling on the Chairman of INEC, to order the Residence Electoral Commissioner to announce the result of the election as collated. “After he has released the result, he should be deployed and tried for partisan politics. “He is a dangerous signal to this institution, INEC. Such person is not supposed to be found the corridors of INEC. He has disparaged this institution.” Omenazu noted that it was wrong for the INEC to gather votes of Rivers people and refuse to announce same, adding that the electorates in the state are waiting to hear the result announced. He stated that the INEC does not have right to cancel or withhold result of any election, stressing that all the electoral umpire could do was to announce the results before it. He said: “It is a flagrant abuse of the electoral process that someone will leave his house to the polling unit and cast his vote and the vote will not count. “INEC should please and urgently release the result of the election. We are seeing that INEC is partisan. We don’t need anarchy in the state.”

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