The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that some of its staff were assaulted and electoral materials destroyed during the bye-elections in 11 states across the country.
Recall that the commission fixed December 9 for the supplementary bye-election in Zamfara state where some incidents of violence occurred.
The commission said it cancelled results in Bakura constituency because of over-voting in 14 polling units.
This was contained in a statement released on Sunday by Festus Okoye, the INEC national commissioner for information and voter education.
Festus said “election disruption manifested in the declaration of the bye-election for Bakura State Constituency”.
Okoye said though the elections were generally peaceful, some of INEC’s staff were attacked, and in some areas, money was demanded before electoral materials were allowed to be deployed.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted bye-elections spread across eleven States of the country on Saturday, 5th December 2020. The bye-elections involved nine States House of Assembly seats and six Senatorial seats. The results of all the House of Assembly seats have been declared, except for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara state,” he said.
“Also, the results of four Senatorial seats have been successfully declared and the commission hopes that the results of the other Senatorial seats would be declared soon. As it has become the practice of the commission, the results of the elections will be available on the commission’s website during the week.
“Although the elections went generally well, the commission regrets the some unscrupulous persons are still bent on disrupting the process. In some areas, staff of the commission were assaulted and materials destroyed, while in others there was resistance to the use of the smart card reader. In yet other areas, commission staff were prevented from deploying altogether. In fact, in one area in Lagos State, some people demanded for money from INEC staff before they would be allowed to deploy. These acts continue to reflect poorly on our country and denude thespirited efforts of the commission to improve the electoral process under very difficult circumstances. Sadly, a number of the commission’s staff were assaulted during the bye-elections. The commission commiserates with them.
“One consequence of the lingering of election disruption manifested in the declaration of the bye-election for Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara state inconclusive. The Returning Officer declared the result inconclusive in line with Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the commission’s Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections.
“The election for Bakura State Constituency became inconclusive because the 2,181 vote margin between in the two leading candidates-those of the PDP (18,645 votes) and APC (16,464) – is less than the total number of registered voters in 14 polling Units where elections were cancelled or not held, which stands at 11,429.
“Consequently, by the ‘margin of lead principle’, the election could not be declared and no winner was returned. Voting in the 14 affected polling Units was marred by over-voting, abduction of staff of the commission, violence, assault occasioning grievous hurt against INEC officials, burning of INEC materials and snatching and carting away of sensitive Electoral materials, resistance to the use of smart card readers and obstruction of the electoral process.
“The commission met on Sunday, 6th December 2020 and decided to remobilize and conclude the election on Wednesday, 9th December 2020. In order to ensure that the supplementary Election is properly secured, the commission is considering clustering the affected polling Units to prevent the disruption experience on 5th December 2020. The details will be worked out by the INEC state office in Gusau after consultation with stakeholders.
INEC warned those who have no business with the supplementary election in Zamfara to keep away, adding that it will not condone further attacks on its staff and destruction of electoral materials.
The commission commiserated with the families of the six police officers who drowned after a boat containing electoral materials which they were escorting capsized in Bayelsa state.