Rivers Rerun: INEC Suspends Elections, Declaration of Results As Violence RagesFeatured, Latest News, News Monday, March 21st, 2016
By Ignatius Okpara, Port Harcourt
Following the violence that rocked Saturday’s Rivers State legislative rerun, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended elections in all constituencies of the State.
Indication to this emerged in a statement issued late on Sunday by the electoral body. The suspension, INEC declared, would last pending the receipt of a comprehensive report from its field officials and monitors.
However, INEC confirmed “the suspension does not affect constituencies where the exercise has been completed and the results declared by the returning officers”.
It also affirmed that there was no official result yet, declared so far, still, INEC indicated that results were ready in one Federal Constituency and 11 State House of assembly seats.
INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Osaze-Uzzi, explained that elections witnessed disruption of the process, including barricading of some of the INEC Local Government offices and Registration Area Centres (RACs) used for the distribution of Electoral materials which he added led to the late commencement of the exercise in some places and consequently, its smooth take off.
Speaking further, Osaze-Uzzi regretted “Of more serious concern was 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, who marred the elections in some areas.
“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.
“Regrettably, such deviant behaviour has continued today (Sunday). Several permanent and ad hoc staff engaged have been attacked, again resulting in fatalities, while some have been forcibly abducted and taken to unknown destinations”.
He asserted under a tense situation like these, some of the Returning Officers were only able to collate and declare results in one Federal and nine State constituencies where the disruption and malpractices were not so widespread.
“Having reviewed the situation, the Commission is compelled to suspend all further action concerning the exercise in 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” INEC stated.
The State’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Aniedi Ikoiwak, had earlier while briefing journalists Sunday disclosed that the cancellation of election was due to irregularities at the affected local government areas.
It would be recalled INEC has announced cancellation of elections Saturday in six Local Council areas, but later Sunday added two.
The affected areas were Khana, Bonny, Gokana, Andoni, Tai and Eleme, Etche and Asari-Toru Local Councils.
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