A recap of the Rivers state elections: the polls and the drama.

The residents of Rivers state didn’t have it easy during the recently concluded re-run elections. Although the Rivers state Police Command took precaution by restricting people’s movement from 6pm to 6am, the inevitable still happened – people were allegedly killed during the polls.

The genesis

There had been warning signs that the re-run polls (for some federal and state legislative seats in Rivers State) which took place on Saturday, the 19th would be violent. Just a few days before the polls, Chibuike Amaechi, the former governor of Rivers State who is also the Minister for Transportation, reportedly moved back to Port Harcourt and has consistently been engaged in a verbal battle with the present governor of the state, Nyesom Wike.

While speaking as guest on Rhythm FM, Port Harcourt, Amaechi did not keep his disgust with Wike under wraps. He reportedly accused Wike of mismanagement of funds and further challenged him to come out with his ‘criminals’ as the APC members will be waiting. Although Wike also accused Amaechi of abandoned projects and corruption, there was bound to be some tension between the two strongest political parties in the state – PDP and APC.

The election was not without its fair share of drama. Despite the curfew, and promises of military and police presence in all the polling units, there were reports of intimidation, threats, ballot snatching and kidnapping by thugs who were allegedly hired by politicians.

The show of shame by politicians

Nyesom Wike and Chibuike Amaechi reportedly went to the police station with about 500 supporters to contest the results of Ward 10, in Port Harcourt. Among those on Wike’s side were Chief Austin Opara (former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives); Mr Azubike Emeregini (former Chairman, Local government Service Commission); Chief George Sekibo (Senatorial candidate of the PDP for Rivers East), while Amaechi had Ibim Semenitari (Ag. MD, NDDC), Dakuku Peterside (DG, NIMASA) and Davies Ibiama (State chairman of APC).

It is quite hilarious that leaders of the state who should be in charge of keeping peace and stability were instead engaged in a bloody power tussle they seem to be proud of. They are not ashamed to be seen as despotic; those will go any length to hold on to power.

Alleged assassination attempt on Dakuku Peterside by the SSG

According to Sahara Reporters, the Secretary to the State Government, Chukwuemeka Woke was arrested by the Department of State Security (DSS) in Rivers State for leading an assassination attempt on Dakuku Peterside, the governorship candidate for APC and the director of NIMASA.

Dakuku was reportedly trailed as he drove to his house and as soon as he noticed the gun men in their SUV, he took a detour and headed towards the DSS’ office, where his security aide had already radioed for help. The DSS were able to demobilize the gun men and among the occupants of the car was Woke, the SSG.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) reaction

INEC’s Director of Voter Education and publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi released a statement this morning which gave insight to the experiences of INEC officials within the state.

“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 8 Local Government Areas.” Osaze-Uzzi said.

Due to the violence (which is still relatively ongoing), the commission has suspended further action concerning the electoral exercise.

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