The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has this morning suspended the Federal and State legislative elections that held yesterday across the three senatorial districts of the state in two more local governments, thereby bringing the number of LGAs suspended to eight.
The Resident Electoral Commission who disclosed this development in a press statement said the reason for the suspension was related to violence and irregularities.
The statement reads in part, “Further to our earlier pronouncement on the suspension of the rerun elections in the six Local Government Areas of, Khana, Bonny, Gokana, Andoni, Tai and Eleme following disturbances and violence that impeded the electoral process in those parts of the state.”
“It has also become necessary to suspend the elections in Etche and Asari-Toru Local Government Area, for the same reason.”
Ikoiwak stated that the suspension was to forestall breakdown of law and order or loss of lives and property.
He also said the commission was at the moment studying the situation in order 15 local government areas where collations were on going.
INEC had yesterday announced the cancellation of rerun elections in four local government areas. The affected councils are: Khana, Gokana, Andoni and Bonny.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Aniedi Ikoiwak, announced the cancellation in a briefing yesterday’s afternoon in Port Harcourt.
He said the cancellation followed attacks of INEC officials at the affected councils by party members who alleged electoral materials sent to them were fake.
Ikiowak said a new date for elections in the four affected LGAs would later be announced.
State constituencies where elections did not hold were Abua/Odual, Ahoada West, Etche One, Khana One, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Ogu/Bolo, Okrika, Oyigbo, Port Harcourt One and Three.
Ahoada West/Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni federal constituency was also not affected by the rerun.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who is a former Rivers Governor, maintained that with free and fair elections, the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would emerge victorious.
Governor Nyesom Wike however, accused INEC of not being prepared for the rerun.
He claimed that that the challenges that greeted the elections would have been avoided if the commission had prepared so well.
He noted that some parts of the state did not have result sheets, which he said could lead to violence, if the electorate suspected foul play.
Wike, who spoke with reporters after voting at Ward 9, Unit 7 in Obio/Akpor LGA of the state, said: “It is obvious that INEC is not prepared for the rerun elections. INEC refused to tell members of the public its challenges.”
The Rivers governor stressed that there were cases of snatching of election materials in Ubima (Amaechi’s hometown in Ikwerre LGA) and Omagwa (also in Ikwerre LGA), saying it was unfortunate that the challenges were experienced, in spite of the time INEC had to prepare.
Wike, a former Minister of State for Education, however, lauded the security agencies for maintaining law and order in the state.
The Rivers chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), through its Chairman, Chief Felix Obuah, alleged that soldiers beat up the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Kenneth Kobani, an Ogoni.
It claimed that the Rivers Commissioner for Environment, Prof. Roseline Konya, was also beaten by soldiers to a state of coma in Ogoni while the Special Adviser to Rivers Governor on Special Projects, Cyril Dum Wite and over 2000 PDP members across the state were equally beaten, arrested and detained by soldiers.
The party alleged that all PDP agents at INEC offices in Khana, Tai and Gokana LGAs were also beaten up and driven away.
When contacted, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations of the 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Capt. Eli Lazarus, said he was not aware of the allegations levelled against the soldiers by the PDP, but promised to find out.