Following reports of widespread violence and disruption of elections in Rivers State, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday suspended all electoral processes in the state indefinitely.
There were upsets here and there, as results of the Governorship and State House of Assembly polls trickled in yesterday.
Expectedly, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, won in their strongholds where a battle of sorts raged in a few where their candidates ran neck-and-neck.
The quest of the APC to retain its control of Oyo State, the political capital of the South-West geo-political zone went up in smoke. Its candidate, Chief Adebayo Adelabu lost in 28 of the 33 local councils to the PDP flagbearer, Engr Seyi Makinde. States that the APC won include Lagos, Kwara, and Ogun and was heading for victory in Nasarawa, Jigawa, Kebbi, Niger, and Kano.
Conversely, the PDP emerged victorious in Enugu, Oyo, Ebonyi, and was eyeing victory in Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Delta, and Abia states where the APC and PDP were running neck-and -neck, including Kaduna and Plateau.
The APC picked the 24 seats in the Edo State House of Assembly thereby having a one party house in the assembly since 1999.
The commission has also launched a probe of the entire processes and its fact-finding committee is to report back in 48 hours.
“Based on reports from our officials in the field, the Independent National Electoral Commission has determined that there has been widespread disruption of elections conducted on the 9th day of March 2019 in Rivers State.
“These initial reports suggest that violence occurred in a substantial number of polling units and collation centres, staff have been taken hostage and materials including result sheets have either been seized or destroyed by unauthorized persons. In addition, safety of our staff appears to be in jeopardy all over the state and the Commission is concerned about the credibility of the process,” INEC said in statement by Dr. Festus Okoye, a national commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee.
Consequently, INEC said “at a meeting held today 10th March 2019, the Commission has decided to suspend all electoral processes in the State until further notice. This is in line with Section 26 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and Clause 47(e) of the Regulations and Guidelines of the Commission.
“The Commission has also established a Fact-Finding Committee to assess the situation and report back within 48 hours. We appeal to the people of Rivers State, particularly the voters, for their understanding as we look into the circumstances of these disruptions and what further action needs to be taken,” the statement added.