The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has given reasons for the suspension of the rescheduled re-run election into the National and State House of Assembly in Rivers State.
The commission, in a statement signed by Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, Director, Voter Education and Publicity, said there were reports of numerous attacks resulting in fatalities, kidnappings, ballot snatching, diversion of officials and materials, amongst others, which necessitated its suspension in eight local government areas.
Osaze-Uzzi lamented such deviant behaviour has continued the next day being Sunday as several permanent and ad-hoc staff members have been attacked, again resulting in fatalities, while some have been forcibly abducted and taken to unknown destinations.
He said: “Under such difficult circumstances, the Returning Officers were only able to collate and declare results in 1 Federal and 9 State constituencies where the disruption and malpractices were not so widespread.”
According to him, having reviewed the situation, the commission was compelled to suspend all further action concerning the exercise in all the other constituencies in the State pending the receipt of a comprehensive report from its Field Officials and Monitors.
“For the avoidance of doubt, it should be noted that the suspension does not affect the constituencies where the exercise has been completed and the results declared by the Returning Officers”, he said.
He regretted that some of the elections witnessed the disruption of the process, including the barricading of some of INEC’s Local Government offices and Registration Area Centres (RACs) used for the distribution of electoral materials which led to the late commencement of the exercise in some places and consequently, its smooth take off.
Osaze-Uzzi said the most serious concerns were the level of threats, violence and intimidation of election officials and voters by well-armed thugs and miscreants allegedly acting on behalf of some politicians, which marred the elections in some areas.
And as the controversy surrounding the suspension of the election rages, Governor Nyesom Wike has said that the military-orchestrated violence in the state could be part of a plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to declare a state of emergency in the state on the premise of heightened propaganda.
Wike said he had compiled videos of the atrocities committed by the military across the state during the rerun elections, saying that the videos will be released to the public at the appropriate time.
The governor, who denounced the cancellation of the election result in some councils, said that with the declaration of results by returning officers in the respective constituencies, no INEC official is empowered by law to cancel or nullify such results.
The governor in an interview in Port Harcourt on Monday, said the statement by the National Secretariat of the PDP that the Federal Government plans a state of emergency in the state should not be disregarded as there is always an element of truth to every rumour.
According to him, the APC is merely involved in propaganda to create the impression of violence.
On the further rerun in eight local government areas, Governor Wike said measures should be taken by INEC to address the challenges noticed during the March 19 elections.
He suggested that one Resident Electoral Commissioner should be assigned to one local government area for greater efficiency in the conduct of the polls.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the APC has called for the arrest of Governor Wike over what it claimed was an assassination attempt on the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the state APC Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, and the deputy governorship candidate of the party in the April 2015 elections, Hon. Asita O. Asita.
Ikanya, in a statement in Port Harcourt, said the trio narrowly escaped death on Sunday afternoon after Peterside’s vehicle in which they were travelling from the Port Harcourt International Airport was attacked by gunmen in two utility vehicles belonging to Emeka Woke, the Chief of Staff to Governor Wike.
He said they, however, survived by making a quick detour to the nearby Department of State Security (DSS) office to seek refuge.
Ikanya said: “This brazen attempt to snuff out the lives of three key leaders of the Rivers State APC is outrageous, an affront and is condemnable.”