INEC Breaks Silence On Alleged Rigging In Adamawa Poll

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied accusations that the 2023 Adamawa State governorship election was rigged in favor of Governor Ahmadu Fintiri.

There are allegations that INEC personnel assigned to oversee the state’s gubernatorial election conspired with the incumbent governor to rig the March 18 election following an alleged midnight visit to the state Government House before to the election.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disputed the story in a statement on Thursday, saying the body is not partisan.

“The Commission’s attention has been drawn to a Press Statement by a candidate in the recently concluded Adamawa State Governorship election in which officials deployed for legitimate duty in the State were alleged to have undermined the electoral process after a discreet ‘nocturnal’ visit to the Government House and ostensibly met with one of the candidates in the election who gave them a list of ‘collation and returning officers’ deployed for the election,” the statement reads.

“Normally, the Commission does not join issues with partisan actors, especially when there is no evidence provided.”

Okoye maintained that no such visit or meeting occurred as indicated in the allegations.

He also refuted the supposed construction of a collation and return officers.

“Such a meeting would have been contrary to the oath of neutrality that we all swore to. Moreover, every conscientious observer would have noticed that the Commission appointed and retained only one Returning Officer for the Governorship election who also doubled as the State Collation Officer for the Presidential Election (SCOPE).

“Like all Returning Officers nationwide, he was issued with a letter of appointment by the Commission and the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Adamawa State was duly informed. The list of Collation Officers was also forwarded to the State with every page of the list personally endorsed by the Chairman of the Commission well ahead of the arrival of the National Commissioners,” Okoye said.

According to him, the same Press Statement gave the impression that the Commission’s national headquarters specifically targeted Adamawa State in its deployment of National Commissioners and other officials with the sole intention of influencing the outcome of the supplementary election held on Saturday, April 25th, 2023 and marginalizing the REC.

“This couldn’t be further from the truth. For the record, the Commission’s regular policy and practice has been to deploy National Commissioners, RECs, and other staff from the headquarters or neighboring States for additional or off-cycle elections when deemed appropriate.

“In the case of Adamawa State, where a supplementary governorship election was held in 69 polling units, two National Commissioners were deployed, while three National Commissioners were deployed in Kebbi State, which involved 142 polling units.” Similarly, one National Commissioner was assigned to each of the following states: Sokoto, Zamfara, Imo, Rivers, Ekiti, and Ogun. This has been the Commission’s regular approach, and all RECs have been informed in advance.

As a result, Adamawa State was not singled out. Except for Adamawa State, where the reasons are now evident to all, the RECs collaborated with the National Commissioners in all other states.

“The general public is advised to dismiss these insinuations as nothing more than claptrap.” We further urge those responsible for the sabotage to stop immediately, as such fabrications have endangered the lives of our officials (both ad hoc and regular) engaged in lawful election tasks. “We expect well-meaning citizens to act with propriety and decency,” Okoye said.

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