Widespread Violence, Disruption: INEC Suspends Rivers Guber Polls …Says Army, Air Force, Police Hijacked Polls Collation Process …Accuses Army Of Screening Results, Harassing Collation Officers

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike (left), casting his vote, during the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in Port Harcourt last Saturday.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed widespread disruption of polls in Rivers State.
The commission also raised alarm over the safety of its staff, which according to the INEC Director, Voter Education, Barrister Festus Okoye, appears to be in jeopardy.
Consequently, the commission has suspended all electoral processes in the state until further notice.
Okoye, who announced the suspension of electoral activities in a statement made available to journalists, yesterday, also noted that the commission was concerned about the credibility of the process.
The statement reads: “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 centres, staff have been taken hostage and materials including result sheets have either been seized or destroyed by unauthorised 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.
“Consequently, at a meeting held today 10th March 2019, the commission has decided to suspend all electoral processes in the state until further notice. This is in line with Section 26 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and Clause 47(e) of the Regulations and Guidelines of the Commission.
“The commission has also established a fact-finding committee to assess the situation and report back within 48 hours. We appeal to the people of Rivers State, particularly the voters, for their understanding as we look into the circumstances of these disruptions and what further action needs to be taken. “
In a related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State has accused military and police personnel of placing the Rivers State INEC office under siege.
The INEC in Rivers State further declared that the military and police personnel are illegally screening Collation Officers, thereby obstructing the collation process for the Rivers State governorship election.
The Head of INEC Department of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Edwin Enabor made the declaration in an interview with newsmen, yesterday, at the INEC headquarters in Port Harcourt.
Enabor said, “The INEC office is under siege by men in army uniforms, uniforms of the Air Force and police who have taken over. They are stopping and screening people. They are clearing results before they enter the office to the extent that up till now, no collation has been done.
“We don’t understand where the people are deployed from. We are not accusing the Nigerian Army or the Nigerian Air Force, but we say the people right now in the office are wearing uniforms of Army and Air Force.
“If they are not from them, we are calling on them to come and rectify the situation and allow our officers to enter with their results without molestation and harassment “, the spokesman of INEC in Rivers State said.
He added: “Throughout the elections, we had so many reports of insecurity, molestation, harassment and assault on our staff and ad-hoc staff. Disruption of the electoral process throughout the state in all the local government areas with the consequence that by yesterday evening, we were unable to get any results and by 1pm today (yesterday), the office is under siege by men in Army, Air Force and Police uniforms”.