By Christian Njoku
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would not pay a Collation Officer for Saturday’s Governorship and House of Assembly elections in Cross River, who absconded.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Dr Frankland Briyai, made this known on Monday in Calabar, while speaking with newsmen after the declaration of results of the polls.
He said that the collation officer was assigned to Calabar South Local Government Area, but was later discovered to have disappeared.
He said that he could understand why the official absconded from the job, saying that the fellow was absent at the collation centre and his whereabouts unknown.
“The fact is that this did not just happen in Calabar South. We had experienced similar incident in the Presidential and National Assembly elections, so, we always have a back-up in case something like this happens.
“The absence of the Collation Officer has no implications other than that he is not going to be paid,” he said.
According to Briyai, the Cross River governorship and House of Assembly elections were free and fair.
“You could see the credibility of the process because after the announcement of the result by the State’s Returning Officer, Prof. Akim Ibhadode, there was no opposition from any political party.
“To the best of my knowledge, throughout the voting process in the state, nobody died, though we heard some information of people burning houses in Yakurr Local Government Area.
“Besides that, the security agents performed creditably well.
“Violence you know is perpetuated by humans; it could happen anywhere. There is no 100 per cent security in any country in the world.”
On his part, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Agent at the State Collation Centre, Mr Asuquo Ekpeyong, told journalists that his party was satisfied with the outcome of the elections.
“The people have spoken; they have given their mandate to His Excellency, Gov. Ben Ayade, returning him to office for another four years to continue the good works of his administration.
“The process was extremely transparent and it moved very swiftly since we started the collation process yesterday,” he said.
In the result declared by the returning officer, PDP won the governorship race with 381,484 votes. The All Progressive Congress (APC), which fielded Sen. John Owan-Enoh as candidate, polled 131,161 votes.