Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa
Prof Charles Adias who served as State Collation Officer for Rivers State on February, 26 presidential elections has raised the alarm over an unabated threat to his life.
The don who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Otuoke, (FUO), had during the collation of results addressed newsmen in Port Harcourt, informing them of adjournment due to threat to his life and family members.
Adias, had alleged that some persons, especially members of the Labour Party (LP) were after his life despite having nothing to do with the conduct of elections and the computation of results.
He said those accusing him of rigging elections in Rivers were circulating his picture and personal information on social media and calling on their members to deal with him.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Adias said though he was aware of the challenges of being a collation officer he decided to weather the storm because of his conviction for the growth and development of the political process in the country.
He said: “On my appointment as State Collation Officer for the 2023 Presidential Elections (SCOPE), Rivers State, 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.
“Hence, I worked within the scope of my briefs 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, my job as the State’s Collation Officer for the Presidential Elections (SCOPE), Rivers State, and as expected of all Vice-Chancellor of Federal Universities, who was also deployed to other States of the Federation too, I received the report of collated and announced results from Local Government Area Council Collation Officers (EC8C).
“I Collated the votes scored by each Political Party from Form EC8C into Form EC8D and entered the votes scored in the spaces provided; added up the LGA collated results to obtain the State’s summary; cross-checked the totals and entries in Form EC8D with the Collation Support and Result Verification System (CSRVS) secretariat for computational accuracy; announced loudly the votes scored by each Political Party; signed, dated and stamped the Form EC8D and requested the Polling Agents to countersign.
“Then other formalities followed up the ladder to the final Collation Centre in Abuja.
“The above procedures were dutifully followed under public viewing and in presence of all the officials, from the designated regular INEC Staff, INEC Ad-hoc Staff, Party Agents and Officers, Security Personnel to local and Foreign Observers, and the Press, with no adverse and untoward behaviours, noted or recorded, all the way” Adias stated.
The vice chancellor said he began to receive several phone calls and text messages threatening, abusing and insulting his person and family on February 26, 2023, while on his way to Port Harcourt to report to duty not knowing that his photograph and phone number had already been circulated on the social media, alleging that he had been detailed to influence votes and scores for Candidate(s) in the elections by manipulating the BVAS machines in Rivers State among others.
“On getting to Port Harcourt, I had to inform the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) about my experiences which he roundly condemned and promised that my safety was assured and pledged that the Commission would do something about it,” Adias stated.
Narrating his ordeal Adias said after collating results for 3 local government areas on February 26, 2023, he retired to his hotel room. But while he tried to rest to prepare for the following day, the threat calls and messages still continued.
“I managed to bear it all till the following day when I set out to collate results for 18 more local government areas making it 21 LGAs as at February 27, 2023. At the end of the hectic process of collation for that day, the results for Obio/Akpor and Degema Local Government Areas were not ready.
“Considering all that had happened, the following day, on February 28, 2023, I decided to adjourn the collation of results and insisted on a Press Conference to let everyone know about the several threats to my life and as they may affect the collation exercise.
“Thereafter, the Collation was adjourned, and I insisted that until INEC addressed the issues of misinformation, and blackmail; and defined the roles of SCOPE as distinct from that of other Officers whose duty it is to receive results as collated at the Units to the Wards, all through to the local governments, I would not go on with the exercise.
“My request was granted and INEC had a Press Conference debunking all the misinformation and disinformation. Thereafter, the Collation continued and the exercise was completed.
Adias noted that owes Nigeria and Nigerians the duty of a thorough explanation of what happened and hence the narration.
“My image is far more precious to me than anything else. Trust me; there is no iota of 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.
“I want to urge us to discountenance all the misinformation and lies that had been peddled about me in relation to the conduct of the 2023 Presidential Elections in Rivers State. Let us be assured that my patriotic zeal for the growth and development of our dear country will not be dampened, no matter the seeming discouragements”, he stated
Prof Charles Adias, Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa