The Independent National Electoral Commission has suspended all activities relating to the rerun elections in Rivers state pending the receipt of a comprehensive report from its field officials and monitors.
The electoral body, in a statement released late on Sunday, cited the disruption of voting process as well as threats, violence and intimidation of election officials and voters, as the rationale behind the suspension.
As a result of the aforementioned reasons, INEC had earlier cancelled elections held in eight local councils of the state.
According to INEC’s Director in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, Osaze-Uzzi, 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.
“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.”
“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.”