Violence mars Rivers rerun as INEC suspends election in 6 LGAs

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Widespread violence marred the rerun legislative election across Rivers State on Saturday, necessitating the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend the polls in six of the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

At least five persons were reportedly killed in various locations within the state. An office of the electoral commission was also blown off.

INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers State, Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak, announced the affected local governments as Bonny, Gokana, Abua/Odual, Khana, Eleme and Andoni.

The rerun election was to fill out vacancies for the three senatorial districts, 12 House of Representatives seats and 22 of the 32 state Assembly constituencies.

Earlier on Saturday some INEC ad hoc staff in Ikwerre and Asari Toru local government areas boycotted the legislative rerun election over fear of violence.

A resident of of Ikwerre, told newsmen that officials abandoned electoral materials on the roadside, saying their safety was not guaranteed.

In Buguma, headquarters of Asari Toru, voters were still awaiting INEC officials in many polling units as of the time of filing this report.

There have also been incidents of violence in different parts of the state, including heavy shootings at Akuku Toru local government, hijacking of electoral materials in Bonny local government, and pockets of skirmishes in Eleme local government, where a vehicle was set ablaze.

The security situation also made some voters shun the poll.

In Tai and Bonny LGAs, voters boycotted the exercise over the claim that fake result sheets were in circulation, an allegation that INEC denied.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) have been trading blames over the widespread violence recorded during the election.

Over 6,000 policemen were posted to the state for the election, supported by soldiers and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). The deployment, however, could not guarantee a hitch-free poll.

Though violence was among the reason which made the tribunal and appeal court to order a fresh election in the state, break down of law and order was recorded across most parts of Rivers on Saturday.

An INEC official said dynamites were used to blow up the commission’s office in Gokana, while electoral materials were hijacked by suspected thugs in Bonny.

In Abua LGA, INEC officials were stranded as there was no security provision to move across the water, and election could not hold in most parts of Khana.

Tambari Ntoti, an agent of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nonwa community, Tai LGA, was shot dead.

James Gogo, a resident of Ahoda west, alleged that most of the ad hoc staff deployed in the area were not members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) but militants.

“Some of these guys are well known in the state. I have no interest whatsoever in this election, and I am not in support of any party. Some of these INEC staff are known militants,” he said.

 

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