INEC To Punish Officials Involved In Election Malpractice

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Mahmood Yakubu has said that the commission will punish all of its officials and ad-hoc staff who engaged in electoral malpractice during the legislative re-run election in Rivers State.

Yakubu made this known during a world conference at the opening ceremony of a two-day Capacity Development for INEC Press Corps on Friday in Abuja.

The INEC boss, while identifying some officials of the commission that displayed uncommon courage and patriotism in the face of danger during the elections, noted that the commission was also aware of reports of infractions by some of its staff, ranging from absence from duty posts to partisanship in the discharge of their duties.

“We also acknowledge that in Ahoada East and West, a Supervisory Presiding Officer unsuccessfully tried to abscond with ballot papers and result sheets,” Yakubu said.

“We are also investigating the allegation of bribery involving other staff, particularly those deployed to Etche and Ikwerre.

“We wish to assure all Nigerians that the Commission is instituting an administrative inquiry as part of a comprehensive review of the Rivers re-run elections.

“Needless to say that any INEC staff found to have disobeyed clear rules and regulations will be appropriately sanctioned,” he insisted.

The INEC boss noted that the commission recorded at least, 70 incidences of obstruction of electoral process in Rivers State including harassment, abduction and physical assaults of election duty personnel during the election.

“Indeed, in many instances, we had to deploy directly from the local government areas to PUs, contrary to our plans,” he said.

“Amidst heavy shooting by political thugs, vehicles transporting materials and personnel to PUs were hijacked, Voter registers, ballot papers, result sheets and Smart Card Readers were brazenly snatched at gun point.”

Yakubu said that all the instances of violence have been documented and INEC shall “take appropriate action under the law and its guidelines and regulations.”

“We are confident that the security agencies will investigate all violations of the nation‘s laws before, during and after the last re-run elections in Rivers.

“INEC will work with the security agencies to uncover and punish those who disrupted the distribution of election materials,” he assured.

The INEC Chairman also commended in a special way, the Returning Officer for Rivers East Senatorial District, Oji Ekumankama, an academic professor, who “stood his ground” despite being assaulted by unknown persons in uniform who threatened to arrest him.



    “Election materials, including result sheets and his personal belongings were taken away at gun point, yet he stood his ground, supported by the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, for the area who offered to be arrested along with Ekumankama,” Yakubu said of the returning officer.

    “In the same vein, Ms. Mary Tunkuyo, Mr Agona Isaac, Mr Ademola Toba, NYSC members that served as electoral officers were physically assaulted and sustained serious injuries, yet they stood their grounds and discharged their responsibilities,” he added.

    Yakubu on behalf of INEC, condoled with the families of those who lost their lives in the violence that characterized the election process.

    He called on politicians to regard politics and competition for public office as a responsibility that required civility and candor, “not aggression and blood-letting.’’

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