Violence: INEC suspends all election processes in Rivers

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended all electoral processes in Saturday’s governorship and  House of Assembly elections in Rivers until further notice.

The suspension was made public  in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja by Mr Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education.

Okoye said that the suspension was due to widespread  violence and disruptions that characterised the state’s  elections.

He said that based on reports from INEC officials on the field, the commission had determined that there has been widespread disruption of elections conducted on Saturday in the 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 unauthorised 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.

“Consequently, at a meeting held Sunday,  March 10, 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,’’ he said.

The commission appealed to the people of Rivers , particularly voters, for their understanding as it look into the circumstances of these disruptions and what further action needed  to be taken.

Rivers with 23 Local Government Areas has 4,442 polling units and 3,215,273 registered voters out of which 2,833,101 persons had collected their  Permanent Voter Cards.