The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended a re-run of disputed elections in all the constituencies in the volatile southern oil-rich Rivers state because of irregularities.
A statement issued on Sunday stated that the commission ordered the suspension, pending the receipt of a comprehensive report from its field officials and monitors.
PM News gathered that the country’s electoral body had already cancelled election in eight local councils in the state because of violence.
Speaking on the matter, INEC said “the suspension does not affect constituencies where the exercise has been completed and the results declared by the returning officers”.
No result so far has been declared officially 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.
Clarifying on the suspension, INEC’s Director in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, 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”.
The re-run for seats in the Rivers state assembly and the national assembly in Abuja became necessary after court rulings on challenges to the initial results of last year elections.
“There were some skirmishes here and there and we have contained the situation. At least 12 suspects are in our custody,” state police spokesman Ahmad Muhammad told AFP.