The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has admitted that the military intervened in the Governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State, but that it does not if the involvement was to compromise the exercise.
INEC had suspended the process because of widespread violence. Newsworth recalls that European Union observers had last week lamented that soldiers prevented them from monitoring the March 9 elections in Rivers State.
While fielding questions on Channels TV on Monday, INEC’s director of information and voter education, Festus Okoye, said the commission went on a fact-finding mission to the state based on what it discovered.
According to him, “The fact finding mission that we sent to Rivers established the fact that the military intervened in some places.
“We saw them in INEC office and they agreed that they were at some collation centres on election day.
“We did not go out to establish the fact about who rigged elections or who did not rig. What we want to ensure is that we complete collation of results in Rivers.
“We made a determination that the army got involved in the electoral process but whether their involvement in the process was to rig the elections, I am not in a position to make a determination on that.”
The electoral umpire had earlier disclosed that collation centres were invaded by some soldiers and armed gangs resulting in the intimidation and unlawful arrest of election officials.
The British Government had decried the role the army played in the state, accusing the security agency of undermining the job of INEC.
While the army has set up a committee to look into the allegations, it dismissed the allegations levelled against it, insisting that it was hoodlums in camouflage that disrupted the elections.