INEC suspends electoral activities in Rivers State
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended the ongoing electoral process in Rivers State.
The Commission made the announcement in a press statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, and published on its official twitter handle.
“Based on reports from our officials in the field, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has determined that there has been widespread disruption of elections conducted on the 9th day of March, 2019 in Rivers State.
“These initial reports suggest that violence occurred in a substantial number of polling units and collation centers, staff have been taken hostage and materials including result sheets have either been seized or destroyed by unauthorized persons.
“In addition, safety of our staff appears to be in jeopardy all over the state and the commission is concerned about the credibility of the process,” INEC said.
The commission said all electoral processes in the state have been suspended until further notice.
The suspension came a day after millions of trooped out to vote in their sixth governorship and state assemblies elections since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.
The governorship elections took place in only 29 states as there were no elections in Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Bayelsa, Kogi, Anambra and Osun because the tenures of their governors are yet to expire.
The election in Rivers State is keenly contested between the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governor Nyesom Wike and the candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara.
Elections in the state have always been disrupted by violence as the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections was marred by widespread violence which claimed several lives in the state.
The former governor of the state and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, earlier described the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in the State as relatively peaceful.
He however alleged that INEC compromised by recruiting card carrying members of the PDP as its ad hoc staff.
Mr Amaechi insisted that the peace and tranquility experienced during the exercise was enough to adjudge the polls as peaceful compared to past elections.
Amaechi, a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, adopted the AAC candidate until its party reclaims his mandate from the court.