The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended election in all constituencies in Rivers State. The commission In a statement ordered the suspension, pending the receipt of a comprehensive report from its field officials and monitors late on Sunday.
INEC cancelled election in eight local councils in the state that were at the centre of violent activities. INEC said that the suspension does not affect constituencies where the exercise has been completed and the results declared by the returning officers”.
No conclusive result has yet been officially declared in the rerun poll for state and national Assembly seats.
But INEC said results are ready in one Federal Constituency and 11 state assembly seats.
Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, who is INEC’s Director in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, spoke on the suspension. He said:
“Rather unfortunately, some of these elections witnessed the disruption of the process, including the barricading of some of the INEC 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.
“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, which 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. Several permanent and ad hoc staff engaged have been attacked, again resulting in fatalities, while some have been forcibly abducted and taken to presently unknown destinations”.
Mr Osaze-Uzzi, further added that under such complicated circumstance, 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 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”.
Addressing reporters earlier on Sunday the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Aniedi Ikoiwak said that the cancelation was as a result of violence at the affected local government areas.
Election at Etche and Asari-Toru Local Government Areas were also cancelled.
In a press statement, INEC said: “Further to our earlier pronouncement on the suspension of the re-run 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 become necessary to suspend elections in Etche and Asari-Toru LGAs for the same reasons.
“Please note that the suspension of the re-run elections by INEC is necessitated by the need to forestall breakdown of law and order in the event of further aggravation of crisis.
“INEC needs to put all stakeholders on notice that we are still studying the situation in the other fifteen LGAs, where collations are currently going on”.