Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has declined comment on the recent discovery and media report that Mr Peter Obi of Labour Party, and not Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), won the presidential poll in Rivers State according to results uploaded on the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV).
INEC National Commissioner and Head Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Festus Okoye, Monday, told Ikengaonline in an exclusive interview, that the electoral umpire would not comment on the matter which is already a subject of litigation.
He said that since the matter was already pending before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, anybody with evidence of any infractions or manipulation of results should table same before the tribunal for determination.
“The issue of who won the election and what was posted to the IReV is already before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal. And the law is that when a matter is before the court, you don’t make any comment on it since the issue is now for judicial determination.
“Anybody who has evidence relating to any alleged infractions can submit it before the tribunal so it can be determined. Issues relating to who won and who did not win; the votes scored and the votes not scored are currently before the presidential election petition tribunal.”
This is coming on the heels of a revelation that Obi was actually the winner of the February 25 presidential poll in Rivers State.
Recall that INEC had declared Tinubu winner of the election in the state.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, came second while Obi came third according to the controversial results declared by INEC.
But a finding by Premium Times revealed that in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, Obi won the presidential poll according to results uploaded on INEC IReV.
The results initially declared by INEC for Obio/Akpor LGA showed that Tinubu got 80, 239 votes, Obi 3,829 votes, Atiku 365 votes while Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, scored 161 votes.
But a recent review of the results from various polling units of the 17 wards in Obio/Akpor LGA as uploaded on IReV revealed a sharp contrast with the result declared by INEC.
The review revealed that the Tinubu got only 17, 158 votes while Obi swept the poll with a whopping 73,311 votes.
Obio/Akpor LGA has 1,211 polling units across its 17 wards.
Results from 1,116 polling units uploaded on the IReV as of 16 March, representing about 94.13 percent of the results from the council area, were reviewed.
However, results from some polling units were either blurred or improperly snapped and therefore illegible.
Results from about 95 polling units, representing about 5.87 per cent, were yet to be uploaded within the period under review.
According to the report, there were no results in some polling units either because the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System malfunctioned or people did not come out to cast their votes, as observed at Ake Hostel UNIPORT Polling Unit in Choba Ward.
Premium Times computed the available and readable results from the 1,116 polling units uploaded so far on the IReV within the period of the review.
In some polling units in Obio/Akpor, it was found that some results were altered in favour of the APC, with the original scores mutilated.
The result from Rumuorluoji Open Space II polling unit in Oro-Igwe Ward, for instance, showed that the APC originally scored 17 but the number, ‘2’ was added to the figure to read ‘217.’
For the LP, 227 was recorded, but the number ‘2’ was erased and altered to read ‘027.’
At the column meant for recording the scores in words, there were evidence of adjustments to suit the changed figures.
In Rumuokoro Ward, it was noticed that in 34 polling units, results earlier written for the LP were erased and the figures swapped with that of the APC.
The figures as published by INEC despite the obvious evidence of adjustments and mutilations were tallied
It was equally discovered that in some cases, the results for the National Assembly elections were uploaded in some polling units instead of the presidential election results.
A result from the Civic Centre Hall Polling Unit in Rumuigbo Ward, for instance, showed that a result from the House of Representatives election was uploaded in place of that of the presidential election.
Premium Times also tallied results from Degema Local Government Area uploaded on the IReV, and the findings confirmed Mr Tinubu won in the council area, although the score was slightly lower than the one announced by INEC.
However, the results from some polling units in the council area could not be tallied because they were illegible or not yet uploaded within the period under review.
Mr Obi was leading Mr Tinubu with over 23,000 votes by the time INEC announced the presidential election results in 21 of the 23 local government areas in the state.
The LP candidate polled 169,414 votes at the time, while Mr Tinubu scored 148,979 votes.
Mr Obi’s largest votes at the time came from Port Harcourt City LGA where he scored 62,451 votes, while Atiku scored 7,203 votes, followed by Mr Tinubu, who scored 5,562 votes. Kwankwaso scored 301.
Results were still being expected then from two remaining LGAs – Obio/Akpor, where the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, hails from, and Degema.
With the results from Obio/Akpor coming in, and with INEC announcing that Mr Tinubu scored 80, 239 votes against Mr Obi’s 3,829 votes, the APC candidate was now in the lead and was eventually declared the winner of the presidential election in Rivers State.
Atiku scored 368 votes in Obio/Akpor, while Mr Kwankwaso scored 161 votes.
In Degema Local Government Area, Mr Tinubu scored 2,375 votes, while Mr Obi scored 2,212 votes. Atiku scored 3,108 votes, while Mr Kwankwaso scored 44 votes.
Mr Tinubu polled 231,591 votes in Rivers State as against Mr Obi’s 175,071 votes, according to INEC.
Atiku scored 88,468, while Mr Kwankwaso clinched 1,322 votes.
The collation officer for the presidential election in Rivers had adjourned the collation of results at some point over alleged threat to his life by some supporters of a political party.
There were reports of attacks and suppression of voters in the state.
Ikengaonline reports that Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), had earlier claimed that Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers, was against him during the elections.
Speaking during an interview with Arise TV on Monday, March 13, 2023, Obi alleged that despite the antagonism, he won the state by “over 50 percent” in the presidential poll if the “real votes” were counted.