Jega, who tactically refused to address the nation since the polls started last Saturday, told a press conference in Abuja that in tandem with the Electoral Act, results will be announced 48 hours after the official closing hour of the polls. According to him, the collation exercise will commence at noon at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Prof. Jega, who rubbished election results that have been bandied on social media networks by overzealous Nigerians, warned that such figures should be disregarded, adding that Nigerians should patiently await the official position of the commission.
The INEC boss, who rebuffed pleas from stakeholders prior to the elections over the use of Card Readers, equally admitted failure. He said the failure of the Card Readers overwhelmed the commission, but vowed to investigate the root causes of the pockets of complaints received across the states.
On the number of states where collations have been concluded and results to be announced today, Jega noted: “I have said that in 2011, INEC was able to declare the presidential election result within 48 hours and we have been working assiduously to be able to beat that record. We have been working very hard to be able to declare the election in less than 48 hours that we had in 2011. It is 48 hours after election has ended by yesterday. So, you start counting from Saturday evening when substantial majority of the election in some polling units were concluded.
“According to reports from our state offices, the collation of results has commenced and is going on well. The first collated results for the presidential election are expected at the National Collation Centre here in my Abuja this evening (yesterday).
“Meanwhile, the commission warns strongly against premature publication or announcement of results by unauthorised persons and media channels, particularly online sites. Only INEC is empowered by law to announce results and it is an offence for anyone to preempt the commission in this regard,” he said.
On the peaceful conduct of the polls, Jega stated: “We are pleased that the elections went on smoothly in a substantial number of polling units across the country, including the North-East where the commission was also able to conduct voting for Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the three states of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno.
“It is also gratifying to note that the Card Readers worked well in the majority of polling units, even though there were areas where difficulties necessitated additional guidelines by the commission to allow for manual accreditation of voters, as announced yesterday.
“Osun, Kebbi, Ekiti, Adamawa, Borno, Jigawa, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and Ebonyi states reported reverting to manual-only accreditation of voters in some polling units. Investigations into what accounted for the difficulties encountered with the Card Readers are ongoing,” Jega said.
The INEC chair said the rescheduled election was held yesterday in 350 polling units of Lagos, Kebbi, Adamawa, Niger, Yobe, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Taraba states and the FCT.
“In the course of the elections yesterday, the commission received reports of isolated security challenges in some states that were successfully repelled. We commend the security agencies for their vigilance and dedication.
“We also commended our field staff, especially young men and women of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and students, who formed the bulk of our adhoc personnel, for their bravery and commitment in the face of challenges, to ensure free, fair and credible elections,” Jega explained.
He spoke on underage voting in the North and plans to probe the incidences: On the issue of underage voters, there was on clip that had been in circulation since Saturday afternoon about an underage voter said to be from Taraba State. We have mandated our Resident Electoral Commissioner to investigate it thoroughly, indenting where it happened, the polling official and the person who did it. It is clearly illegal to register and allow an underage person especially that one we have seen widely circulated. We will take adequate measures once it is established.”
Speaking on the violence that marred the exercise in Rivers State, he said: “This morning (yesterday) , we received a letter from the APC (All Progressives Congress) calling for the cancellation of the Rivers State election. When we receive this kind of letter of complaint, we do our best to thoroughly investigate it and we have already commenced investigation but the commission has not yet taken a decision, but we do and communicate appropriately to the political party, but it has to be after the investigation.
“We are concerned about what seemed to be happening in Rivers State because there are many alleged cases of malpractices. We will certainly pay a lot of attention in investigating this and if our staff are involved in any manner, we will apply the appropriate sanction according to the electoral “framework.”
“We have received many complaints and allegations about rigging and we have been doing our best to deal with the reports that have come to us like the case of some supervisory presiding officers disappearing with the result sheets. We have also received complaints of electoral officers deliberately delaying the distribution of electoral and result sheet were also under investigation.
“On what we are doing about the lapses for the coming governorship elections. We know that it is not likely to be perfect which means that there will, definitely be lapses,” Jega said.