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Our Staff Molested, Materials Destroyed During Saturday Bye-Elections – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission has said a number of its workers were assaulted and molested during the bye-elections held across 11 states on Saturday, December 5, 2020.

The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday. 

According to the commission, in one embarrassing instance in Lagos State, some people demanded money from election officials before they could perform their duties.

It revealed that one consequence of the lingering problem of election disruption manifested in the Bakura State Constituency in Zamfara State, where the election was declared inconclusive.

SaharaReporters had exclusively reported on Saturday that a large number of bandits invaded Shiyar Galadima, Rini village in Zamfara State, disrupting the voting exercise at Shiyar Galadima 008 Polling Unit.

Shiyar Galadima is in the Bakura Local Government Area, whose House of Assembly's seat became vacant, following the death of the former lawmaker.

The INEC statement reads in part, "In some areas, the workers of the commission were assaulted and materials destroyed, while in others there was resistance to the use of the smart card readers.

"In yet other areas, the commission workers were prevented from deploying altogether. In fact, in one area in Lagos State, some people demanded money from INEC staff before they would be allowed to deploy.

"These acts continue to reflect poorly on our country and denude the spirited efforts of the commission to improve the electoral process under challenging circumstances.

"Sadly, a number of the commission's staff were assaulted during the bye-elections. The commission commiserates with them. The commission also wishes to extend deep condolences to the families of the six policemen who lost their lives when the boat in which they were escorting election staff and materials capsized in Bayelsa State.

"One consequence of the lingering problem of election disruption was manifested in the declaration of the Bakura State Constituency election as inconclusive. The Returning Officer declared the result inconclusive in line with the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the commission's regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections.

"The election for Bakura State Constituency became inconclusive because the 2,181-vote margin between the two leading candidates – those of the Peoples Democratic Party (18,645 votes) and the All Progressives Congress (16,464) – is less than the total number of registered voters in 14 Polling Units where elections were cancelled or not held, which stands at 11,429.

"Consequently, by the "margin of lead principle", the election could not be declared and no winner was returned. Voting in the 14 affected polling units was marred by over-voting, abduction of staff of the commission, violence, assault occasioning grievous hurt against INEC officials, burning of INEC materials and snatching and carting away of sensitive electoral materials, resistance to the use of smart cards readers and obstruction of the electoral process."

INEC noted that the commission met on Sunday and decided to remobilise and conclude the elections on Wednesday, December 9.

"The commission warns all those who have no business with the conduct of the Supplementary Election to keep away from the 14 polling units as only election staff, security agencies, voters, accredited observers and media, as well as polling agents, are entitled to be at the locations.

"The commission is determined to conclude the election and will not condone further attacks on its staff and destruction of materials," the commission said

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