The Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, has noted with disappointment the hasty decision of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend Saturday’s Port Harcourt Local Government Area [PHALGA] Constituency 3 bye-election process at the collation stage.
The APC in a statement made available to journalists today by the party’s spokesman, Mr. Chris Finebone said: “It is unfortunate that what should be a mere state constituency bye-election witnessed pockets of voter intimidation, harassment, vote-buying and shooting activated by the PDP in line with their usual character of rigging elections through killing and maiming of APC members.”
The statement reads: “It is worthy of note that security agents gallantly rose to the occasion and effectively quelled the pockets of violence that threatened the exercise in some wards in the constituency, leading to the eventual collation of results at the St. Andrew’s premises.
“However, APC and the general public were later to be informed that INEC has suspended the process at the point of collation of results. We want to believe that the suspension is to allow INEC officials to sort itself out and conclude the process accordingly. As a political party, APC is not questioning the judgment or discretionary powers of INEC to make decisions about the bye-election, however, such decisions must strictly conform to relevant laws guiding the system and specifically do not include cancellation of a process that has commenced.
“However, it is pertinent to remind INEC and reassure APC members and the public that, when it comes to any election process that has commenced, the powers of INEC end at suspension of the process for evaluation and eventual conclusion. Such powers do not include cancellation as widely and erroneously peddled. It is only the tribunal or court that can decide on the cancellation of such a process on approach by relevant stakeholders.
“The APC views the wording of the memo suspending the PHALGA 3 bye-election as substantially mendacious, unnecessarily alarmist and generally convoluted with sinister innuendos by the author in a way that does not represent an accurate assessment of the process so far. We hope that INEC will not be misled to derail or embark on a line of action that will leave her with a legal bad nose. This will neither be to the benefit of INEC nor the system in any way.
“In view of the need to timeously conclude the bye-election process and douse the anxiety of voters in the constituency, APC calls on INEC to swiftly and fairly do the needful and subsequently conclude the process and declare the result accordingly. It must be emphasised that INEC has no luxury of options over the matter than to audit the process up to the collation stage when the process was suspended and direct action towards bringing the process to a conclusion.
“Meanwhile, the APC reassured its members in PHALGA Constituency 3 and across Rivers State to be calm and go about their normal lives as INEC has no option than to do the right thing by auditing and subsequently concluding the election process it suspended at the collation stage.”