By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated its readiness to conclude the suspended Federal and State Constituency re-run elections in Rivers in October.This was contained in INEC’s daily bulletin issued on Monday in Abuja.
The bulletin quoted INEC National Commissioner in charge of Electoral Operations, Hajiya Amina Zakari, as expressing the Commission’s resolve when she addressed stakeholders in Port Harcourt.
In the statement, Zakari, however, said that INEC needed the cooperation of stakeholders, especially members of the political class, to conclude the elections.
She said INEC remained a non-partisan body that was only interested in strengthening Nigeria’s democracy by providing political parties and contestants a level playing field.
She said that the Commission was worried that some parts of the Rivers State had no representation at the National and State Assemblies.
Zakari said that necessitated the convening of the forum to discuss issues emanating from the conduct of the May 19 re-run elections which were suspended as a result of violence.
She said that the “cooling off” period was allowed by the Commission to re-strategize on how to return to the affected areas to conclude the elections.
The commissioner said that the March 19 re-run elections were suspended at various stages of post-collation, pre-collation and during collation, due to the prevailing violence then.
She said that the elections could not be concluded because of security reasons and the non-compliance of the political class with the peace resolution signed by them on July 21.
Zakari said that in spite of the efforts of mediators, the conditions earlier set as pre requisite for the conduct of the elections by the Commission were not met in Rivers State.
She said that the elections in Imo and Kano States were conducted because they satisfied INEC’s conditions.
The bulletin also quoted, the INEC National Commissioner supervising the South-South Zone, Dr Mohammed Lecky, as saying that INEC “is ready to conclude the re-run elections once the security situation improved”.
Lecky appealed to politicians to ensure that the atmosphere was conducive for the elections to be concluded.
It also quoted the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State, Mr Francis Odesanya as informing all of the readiness of the security agencies to provide a level playing field for the re-run elections.
Odesanya also promised to ensure adequate security during the elections.