Election violence characterized by ballot snatching and destruction of polling booths has marred the ongoing By-elections in Rivers State. The violence has necessitated the suspension of elections in Port Harcourt 3 state constituency by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC explained the reason for the suspension of electoral activities in the constituency through a statement on Saturday by the Rivers state Resident Electoral Commissioner Obo Effanga, that the decision was necessary following the violence that marred the exercise in the state.
Excerpts from the statement read,
“As a result of this widespread and wanton disruption of the electoral process as reported from the field by the Supervisory Presiding Officers and Supervisors from the Commission and also, having reviewed the situation, the Commission in accordance with the provisions of Section 26 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) has decided to suspend the elections forthwith.”
INEC said it had been fully prepared for the poll which held earlier in the day and had deployed its personnel and electoral materials in the 142 polling units where the poll was conducted.
The commission also observed that the election exercise started peacefully in all the units while the ad-hoc and permanent personnel reported to their duty posts with all the materials well ahead of time.
Just like the Kogi By-elections however, drama started midway into the election process as the area was stormed by thugs escorted by heavily armed security personnel.
The thugs accompanied by the security operatives invaded all the polling units in the constituency were they carted away ballot boxes and destroyed electoral materials thereby disrupting electoral activities.
The thugs also carried away other election materials which included smart card readers and ballot boxes while many INEC officials were manhandled and injured with others held hostage by the invading hoodlums.
A similar event had occurred during the Kogi Bye elections which witnessed extreme violence and ballot box snatching in various parts of the state; two persons lost their lives in the process.
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