The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lamented the level of violence and disruption that attended the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States on Saturday.
The Commission, in a statement signed by its National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Barrister Festus Okoye, noted that despite its efforts to ensure a peaceful, successful and credible elections in the two states, reports of violent activities of political thugs cast a cloud doubt on the process.
It, however, observed that its officials were already studying all reports from accredited observer groups as well as its officials in the fields, reminding political stakeholders in both states to remember the commitment to peaceful and violence-free election they signed on to prior to the election.
It noted that casting of votes had closed in both states and called on the general public to remain calm while the concluding arts of the electoral process are rounded off.
“The Commission is carefully monitoring the processes. Reports from accredited observers and our officials in the field indicate that most voters who were willing to vote had the opportunity to do so. The Commission delivered materials to its two State offices in good time and made adequate preparations for the movement of staff and materials to the various voting locations.
“Unfortunately, however, despite all the efforts of the Commission and the promises of the political parties to promote peaceful elections, including several engagements with stakeholders and signing of Peace Accords, there are reports indicating that the process was in several places affected by thuggery and violence, which the Commission unequivocally condemns. We are still receiving, collating and evaluating these reports as we move into the critical phase of result collation.
“Results will be collated at Registration Areas, Local Government Areas and State levels. Staff of the Commission are ready to receive these results and stakeholders are advised to keep to their commitments to ensure peaceful conduct.
“All electoral officials are reminded of the oath of neutrality they subscribed to. The security agencies have been supportive so far, in the face of many challenges. The Commission calls on them to be even more vigilant at this critical juncture of result collation.
“Finally, the Commission calls on the general public to remain calm, while assuring voters in the two States of the resolve of the Commission to ensure that the elections are concluded fairly and credibly,” the commission stated.