The All Progressives Congress in Rivers state has kicked against the suspension of the electoral process in Rivers state.
The Independent National Electoral Commission National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye in a statement on Sunday announced the suspension of the exercise, citing widespread disruption of elections in Rivers State.
But in his reaction, Tonye Princewill who is the Director, Strategic Communications, Tonye Cole campaign organization faulted the pronouncement.
The APC chieftain described the action taken by INEC as illegal as he noted that the section of the Electoral Act cited by the Commission did not support the abortion of an electoral process that has commenced.
The Tonye Cole Campaign organization further alleged that INEC took the decision to save the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, Governor Nyesom Wike from imminent defeat as it claimed that the Africa Action Congress, (AAC) that has the backing of the APC was coasting home to victory.
The statement read in part:” INEC’s decision is illegal because it is not supported by law. Section 26 of the Electoral Act cited in the INEC Press Release is not even applicable because that section deals with a situation where a date has been appointed for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the election as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, then the commission may postpone the election.
You can see that this provision does not apply to a situation where an election has already been conducted or held, which is the present position in Rivers State.
Since the elections in Rivers State have been held Saturday, INEC is bound by virtue of section 27 of the Electoral Act to announce the results. Having admitted in paragraph one of the Press Release that it has conducted elections on the 9th of March in Rivers State, INEC must by virtue of section 27 of the Electoral Act, announce the results. INEC’s decision to postpone the already held elections is ultra vires, illegal and unconstitutional. Such an unlawful decision can now be challenged in court by virtue of section 26 subsection 5 of the Electoral Act. The challenge can be launched by any of the many contestants at a court or tribunal of competent jurisdiction and on such a legal challenge, the decision of INEC shall also be suspended until the matter is determined.
Our concerns about INEC and our lack of faith in the REC are continually validated. This was the same way they suspended a by-election we held a few months ago when it was clear we were winning. Now, the Africa Action Congress candidate and several houses of assembly candidates supported by APC are cruising to victory and they do it again. Can they not just step out of the way and let the will of Rivers’ people prevail? Rivers state was largely peaceful. Why not deal with areas where you say you have violence and leave the other results to go through? It’s common sense. Why suspend a whole state? Wike will go. It’s only a matter of time. We always knew this. Now the world knows it too. Not even INEC can save him.”