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By Radar

Concerns over electoral rigging loom over elections in the Niger Delta

In Rivers and Bayelsa State, the failure to publish detailed unit level results at polling stations has increased State-wide tensions, raising local concerns of electoral rigging and voter fraud.

On Our Radar reporters have today shared their own experiences of voting, investigating whether results were published transparently at a local level.

“Room for manipulation”

Flora Asieri, On Our Radar reporter and election monitor in Ogbia, Bayelsa State, suggested that the process in her ward was far from transparent.

“I received the total number of votes on the various parties in unit 1, but only because I was an observer. Party agents were also privy to the information, but the result wasn’t pasted on the wall. A copy of the result was given to party agents present. I think this might create room for manipulation at LG or State level. I am sure when the result is out, it will be inflated.”

Faith Abraham, in Anibeze, Bayelsa, confirmed that the results were not posted in her ward either. “Results were not posted nor announced in my unit, even in local levels, but no protest has been planned. This could lead to rigging, but if INEC is sincere it will not be rigged.”

Bokolo Nimiteinbofa, Bayelsa State, was so concerned about the voting situation in Nembe that he followed the matter up with the local police unit. “They announced the results before everyone in the units, but the results were not posted in all the polling units in Nembe LGA. The police officer [at the station] said there were no manipulations with the ballot boxes after the election in the coalition office at the Nembe City Hall. But I know that with this pattern rigging is possible.”

Robert D. Nitabai, in President Jonathan Goodluck’s county, Ogbia, commented; “The independent national electoral commission has refused to announce the result in the state and nobody is aware of the idea.” At this stage, the LGA results in Bayelsa are yet to be announced.

All eyes on Rivers

On Sunday, APC protestors marched upon INEC’s office claiming the result sheets being used by polling officials in several parts of the state were fake. Governor Amaechi refused to be personally accredited because the Presiding Officer in his Polling Unit in Ubima was not able to provide the result sheet upon request.

In Isaac Cotterell’s unit of voting (Unit 5 – Abuja), the result sheet was not formally displayed, supporting Governor Amaechi’s claim. “A sheet was shown, but it was not displayed on the wall. What they displayed was the sheet that contain the pictures of the candidates.”

On Our Radar reporter, Glaad Amadi who covered the protest in Port Harcourt and interviewed local protestors, had this to say; “According to the audio interview l did with APC member, which they claim that election materials was not giving to them. Many people were very angry.”

 

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[Picture credit: Glaad Amadi]

Interviewed at the protest, Mr Stephens said, “INEC never produced the results sheet for us so there is NO election in Rivers State. I am from Okrika, Ward 6, materials arrived and they were moved into the personal resident of the PDP Chairman’s house. So, we have decided to protest that materials are not acceptable.”

Mr. Apliza Adu added, “They did not allow us to vote for our choice! We need them to allow us to vote! We don’t know what INEC are saying, but we are here to represent our party.”

Nkaiso Akpan, a Rivers resident who was unable to vote due to the fact that she could not travel to her place of registration was frustrated and angry with the system. “I am having a feeling that the elections will be rigged. Why am I saying this? Many people could not vote yesterday, but they were registered. What happens to these votes? You may find it hard to believe, but I still have hope.”

Contrary to Amaechi’s reports, however, Best Uso, reporting from Rivers State, confirmed yesterday that the results sheets were, in fact, properly displayed in the units she visited, but that the people are now concerned about the lack of consistency across the State.

“Result sheets were properly displayed in some of the polling units I visited at Ward 3 and 4, Onelga, but after voting and counting the result sheet was not pasted. We here that there was no result sheet at most polling units in Rivers. I think that it will surely affect the credibility of the process. The people in Erema are divided over the election. Yes, we are very worried too. The secrecy of the result has really affected the credibility of the process.”

Many in the Niger Delta have urged caution in response to these accusations by the APC, claiming this should not mar the democratic process.

“The PDP has claimed the protest in Rivers State was sponsored and early on Sunday morning there were buses in Omoku which conveyed people to the protest,” commented Best Uso. Damasus Henry lamenting the current situation urged calm, placing his faith in the agreed upon process; ”we are waiting for the results from INEC. This is a crucial time – they have to take it carefully not to make a mistake.”

 

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