The Presidency and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, urged Nigerians to disregard election results being published in the social media.
Describing the results as fake, INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said the media would be part of the result collation scheduled to begin at 12 noon today. The venue of the collation, according to Jega, is the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, he explained that, while it is not an offence for Nigerians to share scores by contestants among themselves as obtained during collation at the state level, it is an offence to use such scores to declare winner of the elections.
His words: “I know that the presidential election results in Ekiti have been collated, and normally when these results are collated, the observers and everybody who is there will know the result. But what the law prohibits is for people to begin to announce a winner. If you know which candidate got what number of votes in Ekiti and you share it that is not a problem.
“Where the problem emerges is when you begin to declare a winner by virtue of the number of votes you have got. So, people have to be very careful of making projections or declaring candidates as winners, based on the results that they have received. It is only INEC that is supposed to collate the information that they got, and then make a final declaration.
“By the time you start getting some results and you make projections and announce who the winner is, obviously you are falling foul of the provisions of the law. People have to be very careful about this. It is a fact that, as I speak with you, very few states have collated results of the presidential election.”
Hinting that the result of the election would be made public today, Jega further explained that the 48-hour timeline, as promised by the Commission, started counting from Saturday evening when elections were concluded, and not from Saturday morning when the process began.
He said: “In 2011, the Independent National Electoral Commission was able to declare the presidential election results within 48 hours. And we have been working assiduously to be able to best that record. So what we are working hard to do this time is to be able to declare the results within 48 hours or much less than the period we did it in 2011.”
Jega also debunked insinuations that the Commission is under pressure to declare the election inconclusive, saying: “We are not under any pressure to declare the result inconclusive. At any rate, who will be interested in declaring the election inconclusive?”
Admitting that the use of card readers was less than perfect, he, however, noted that the step has added efficiency to the elections.
According to him, the percentage of the malfunctioned card readers is about 0.25 per cent, which is too insignificant to warrant any change of plan.
He said: “We deployed slightly about 150,000 card readers, and from these only about 0.25 per cent malfunctioned; that is also between 374 out of 150,000.”
Jega listed areas where the card readers malfunctioned to include: Lagos (90 polling units), Kebbi (16 polling units), Adamawa (25 polling units), Niger (six polling units), Borno (eight polling units), Jigawa (37 polling units), Taraba (116 polling units) and FCT (two polling units).
The INEC chief said election overseers were used to minimise voided votes, as they were able to guide voters on appropriateness of ballot boxes, adding: “In 2011, about 11 per cent of the total votes cast were invalidated. We thought that that was too high and we decided to adopt election overseers to guide voters on how to vote rightly. We believe that this step will go a long way to reduce the number of invalidated votes.”
The INEC helmsman also confirmed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has lodged formal complaints to the Commission requesting cancellation of the election in Rivers State.
Again, he said: “This morning, I received a letter from the APC political party calling for the cancellation and rescheduling of Rivers State election. When we receive this type of complaint, we do our best to thoroughly investigate. We have commenced the investigation and the commission has not yet taken any decision; but when we take a decision, we will communicate appropriately to the political parties involved, but it has to be after a thorough investigation.
“However, we are concerned about what seems to be happening in Rivers State, there are many alleged cases of malpractices, and we will certainly pay a lot of attention to investigating this, and if our staff are involved in any way or manner, obviously we will apply measures and take the appropriate decisions, as applied by the electoral legal frame work.”
He added: “There have been allegations that some supervisory/presiding officers have disappeared with result sheets. We have also received complaints alleging that electoral officers deliberately delayed distribution of electoral materials, in particular, ballot papers and result sheets. All of these reports are also under investigation.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency, last night, urged Nigerians and members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to disregard results being posted on the social media.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, writing on his Facebook account, said he had identified Ekiti as the only state where INEC announced official result, saying Jonathan emerged winner.
“Our numerous supporters (both home and abroad) are reaching out to us and requesting that we should say something,” he wrote.
“We can assure you that we are on top of everything. INEC has already addressed the issue of viral ‘opposition-sponsored fake results, that they should be ignored.
“So far, the only announced concluded official result from anywhere is (that of) Ekiti State. A resounding victory for President Jonathan! Don’t be fooled or panic. We say thank you.”