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Gov/State Assembly Elections: INEC vows to address allegations of voter harassment, manipulation of results

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The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has vowed to review and address allegations of voter inducement, harassment and manipulation of results arising from the Governorship and State Assembly elections.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye who made this known at a press conference on Sunday night, in Abuja, following the reported cases of violence during the elections, said the violence did not only affect citizens but also had negative impact on the Commission’s officials and processes.

Okoye said some of the Commission’s Staff, both regular and ad hoc who were victims of violence during the elections were abducted, harassed, intimidated, hospitalized, while one was recorded killed in the process.

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As Nigerians are aware, the 2023 General Election is approaching its concluding stages. Arising from the Presidential and National Assembly elections held on 25th February 2023, the Commission promised Nigerians that there will be improved processes during the Governorship and State Assembly elections held yesterday, Saturday 18th March 2023.

In keeping with this promise, we had meetings with our Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and service providers, and the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to review processes and procedures to ensure more optimal delivery of personnel and materials to various locations for the election to facilitate the opening the Polling Units on time.

Consequently, majority of the polling units nationwide opened on schedule and citizens were attended to promptly. Similarly, there was improved voter authentication using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) while the uploading of Polling Unit results to the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) witnessed a remarkable improvement.

We have left no stone unturned as far as the processes and procedures under the control of the Commission were concerned.

However, for difficult and unforeseen circumstances outside the Commission’s control, we did our best to respond, especially where processes were disrupted by actors over whom we have little or no control.

Such diabolical behaviour did not only affect citizens but also impacted on the Commission’s officials and processes. INEC staff, both regular and ad hoc were victims of violence. Some of our staff were abducted, harassed, intimidated, hospitalized and in one case killed.

Nevertheless, where we could not deploy to enable citizens to vote, the Commission took the decision to remobilize to such places to enable citizens to exercise their franchise. Unfortunately, we could not extend the same to areas where voting was disrupted, and election materials destroyed. We are keeping our eyes on those areas and would not hesitate to remobilize where the outcome of the election is affected.

At the moment, collation of results and declaration of winners for the 28 Governorship and 993 State Assembly elections are ongoing nationwide.

We are committed to the sanctity of the process and will not hesitate to take drastic measures against proven irregularities.

Allegations of voter inducement, harassment and manipulation of results will be reviewed and addressed.

Earlier today, the Commission alerted the nation to the invasion of our Obingwa Local Government Area office in Abia State by thugs during the collation of results for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.

In contention was the collated result from the Registration Areas for the Governorship election in that Local Government Area.

The intention was to force the collation of these contentious results. The behaviour of these thugs is unacceptable and there will be a thorough review of the results.

The Commission does not take the patience of citizens for granted and will continue to take steps to protect the integrity of the vote and consolidate the progress made so far in the electoral process.

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