The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday presented Certificate of Return to the re-elected Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Governor Wike was re-elected on March 9, 2019 with the Collation of Governorship Election results concluded on April 3, 2019. INEC Returning Officer, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Federal University, Otuoke, Prof Teddy Adias declared Governor Wike winner after he polled 886,264 votes, to defeat African Alliance Congress candidate, Biokpomabo Awara who scored 173,859 votes.
Rivers State Deputy Governor-Elect, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo and members-elect of the Rivers State House of Assembly also received their Certificates of Return.
National Commissioner in charge of Rivers, Bayelsa and Edo States, Mrs May Agbamuche-Mbu presented the Certificate of Return to Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike in the presence of his wife, Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike.
Speaking at the occasion, Governor Wike dedicated the Certificate of Return to the people of Rivers State who overwhelmingly voted for him .
He also dedicated the victory to Rivers people killed by the Nigerian Army in defence of their votes and democracy. He said that their sacrifices will never be forgotten.
He said: “Today, I dedicate this victory to the people of Rivers State. I also dedicate this victory to those killed by the Nigerian Army in defence of votes and democracy.
“But for their sacrifice, we would not be here.”
He berated the Nigerian Army for the negative roles they played during the 2019 General Elections in Rivers State.
“The duty of the Army is not to take over INEC office and carry out Collation. We saw the Army take over INEC functions and that of the Police . Go to Bori camp, you will see INEC materials . Is it where it is supposed to be. But for God, we wouldn’t have been here . All powers came, but God intervened and that’s why we are here”,
The Governor commended the Police and DSS for living up their responsibilities during the 2019 General elections.
He, however, urged INEC to take steps to investigate why Rivers State is only violent during elections. He advised the Commission to work towards the prosecution of the F-SARs Commander indicted for violence during the 2016 Rerun Elections. He said the same F-SARs Commander killed a Chartered Accountant who served as PDP Collation Agent and must be brought to Justice.
Governor Wike commended INEC for their steadfast commitment to the legal conclusion of Rivers elections, despite the pressure for them to do otherwise.
He said: “I commend INEC for standing firm on the side of the truth. I commend INEC officials for being firm.”
He urged INEC Headquarters to take immediate measures to ensure the total rehabilitation of the INEC Rivers office.
The Governor said that as a matter of State Policy, the Rivers State Government will take steps to assist families of those who were victims of election violence. He said should INEC and the Army permit, Rivers State Government will also reach out to their staff affected by the violence.
Governor Wike said that his second term will witness more projects for the development of Rivers State.
He urged his opponents to take advantage of his olive branch, saying that it was extended in the interest of Rivers State.
National Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu thanked Rivers people for their contributions to the successful conduct of the 2019 General Elections in Rivers State.
Represented by Mrs Agbamuche-Mbu, the INEC boss prayed that going forward steps must be taken to change the narrative of elections in the state.
INEC Rivers Resident Electoral Commissioner, Obo Effanga said despite pressures and attacks INEC conducted credible elections in line with extant laws.
He said: “For us in INEC Rivers State, we stayed focused on conducting a transparent, free , fair and credible election. As I kept promising, on behalf of my team, we were bound by the provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Act, other laws and guidelines for the elections. We were further bound by the pronouncements and decisions of courts.
“The present INEC by its conduct, helped to break away from the negative narrative of violence tainted victories or elections and results that have limited input and participation of the voters. We can say and confidently too, that many voters in the State had access to polling units and indeed exercised their rights to vote in peace in this election than in previous elections “.
Effanga said that if the momentum is sustained, Rivers State will no longer be a flashpoint of violence during elections.