Disruption of Rivers Polls: INEC Indicts Soldiers, Armed Gangs

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed displeasure with the role played by some soldiers and armed gangs in Rivers State which disrupted the collation process and attempted to subvert the will of the people during the governorship and state Assembly polls.

The electoral agency said collation centres in the state were invaded by some soldiers and armed gangs resulting in the intimidation and unlawful arrest of election officials thereby disrupting the collation process.

As a result, INEC suspended the collation process, claiming that they were committed to expeditious completion of the collation process where results of the elections had been announced.

At the moment, INEC has promised that they will issue detailed timelines and activities for the completion of the election this coming Wednesday, March 20, and accordingly confirmed that results from 17 out of the 23 Local Government Areas in the state were collated for the March 9 governorship election.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, made these facts known in a statement at the weekend.

According to the statement, the commission made the declaration after its meeting on Friday where it considered the report of the Fact-Finding Committee set up to assess the situation in Rivers where election process was suspended.

On March 10, INEC announced the suspension of the electoral process in Rivers State following what it described as widespread disruption of collation of results of the elections conducted on March 9.

It subsequently, set up a Fact-Finding Committee to assess the situation and report back within 48 hours.

INEC said the Commission met on Friday and considered the report of the Committee and established that the Governorship and state House of Assembly elections took place in most of the polling units and results were announced.

“That the results from 17 Local Governments out of 23 are available and are in the Commission’s custody.

“That the Declaration and Returns for 21 State Constituencies out of 32 were made prior to the suspension.

Okoye said “INEC will engage the security agencies at national level and the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee at the state level to demand neutrality and professionalism of security personnel in order to secure a peaceful environment for the completion of the elections, adding that the commission will also engage with key stakeholders in Rivers with a view to ensuring a smooth and peaceful completion of the process.

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