The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s State Collation Officer for Rivers State in the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections, Prof. Charles Adias, again raised alarm yesterday in Yenagoa over threat to his life.
Prof Adias, who is Vice-Chancellor of Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, suspended results collation during the elections on account of alleged threats.
He alleged that some supporters of one of the political parties were after his life and those of his family members, in spite of having nothing to do with conduct of elections and computation of results.
He said those accusing him of rigging the elections in Rivers State were circulating his photograph and personal details on the social media and calling on party members to deal with him.
He stated yesterday that while he was aware of the challenges of being a collation officer, he decided to weather the storm because of his commitment to the growth and development of the political process in Nigeria.
“On my appointment as State Collation Officer for the 2023 Presidential Elections, SCOPE, in Rivers, I had set out, as a call to duty on national assignment to fulfil an essential part of my community service as an academic and vice-chancellor of a federal University.
“I worked within my brief as statutorily demanded and as clearly enunciated in the Electoral Guidelines and other enabling instruments.
“By the nature of my assignment, as it is with every other job in this sphere, I knew it was going to be challenging, but I braved it being assured that I would surmount whatever challenge by the grace of God.
“As statutorily designated, I received reports of collated and announced results from local government area council collation officers.
“I collated votes scored by each political party from Forms EC8C into Form EC8D and entered the votes scored in the spaces provided,’’ he stated.
He added that the local governments collated results made up the state’s summary, which he cross-checked with the Collation Support and Result Verification System secretariat for computational accuracy.
“I announced loudly the votes scored by each political party; signed, dated and stamped the Form EC8D and requested the polling agents to countersign.
“Other formalities followed up to the final collation centre in Abuja.
“The procedure was dutifully followed under public viewing and in the presence of regular INEC staff, INEC ad-hoc staff, party agents and security personnel, local and foreign observers, and the press.
“There was no adverse and untoward behaviour noted or recorded, all the way,’’ Adias stated.
He stated also that thereafter, he began to receive several phone calls and text messages threatening, abusing and insulting his person and family on Feb. 26 while on his way to Port Harcourt to report to duty.
He added that he did not know that his photograph and phone number were already in circulation on the social media alleging that he influenced votes and scores of candidates by manipulating the BVAS machines.
“On getting to Port Harcourt, I informed the Resident Electoral Commissioner about my experiences which he condemned and promised that my safety was assured.
“He pledged that INEC would do something about it,’’ Adias stated.
Adias stated that after collating results for three local government areas on Feb. 26, he retired to his hotel room to prepare for the following day only for the threat calls and messages to continue.
“I managed to bear it till the following day when I set out to collate results for 18 more local government areas.
“At the end of the hectic process, the results for Obio/Akpor and Degema Local Government Areas were not ready.
“Considering all that had happened, I decided to adjourn the collation of results on February 28 and insisted on a press conference.
“This was to let everyone know about the several threats to my life as they may affect the collation exercise.
“I insisted that until INEC addressed the issues of misinformation and blackmail and defined the roles of SCOPE, I would not go on with the exercise.
“My request was granted and INEC held a press conference debunking all the misinformation and disinformation. Thereafter, the collation continued and the exercise was completed.
“There is no truth in the rumours that had been peddled. It is just a figment of the imagination of their bearers to what end I cannot really ascertain,’’ Adias stated.