Judex Okoro, Calabar
The House of Assembly re-run election in Affanya community in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State has been characterised by violence, with gunmen reportedly abducting INEC staff and hijacking materials.
Following an Appeal Court ruling in September 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) rescheduled a re-run in eight polling units in Afayna/Igoni-Igoni ward in Abi constituency of the state.
Briefing reporters at Abi INEC office on Saturday on the conduct of the election so far, the INEC Federal Commissioner in charge of South-South region, Dr Mohammed Lecky, decried the incident and wondered why people should still engage in such activities.
Lecky, who was in the company of state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Alalibo Johnson, and the INEC Administrative Secretary of in the state, Mrs Irene Ngozi Oghuma, said the incident occurred in the middle of a river leading to the community.
He said: “Gunmen accosted the electoral officials with materials and went away with all the voting materials along with the SPO (State Presiding Officer).
“Security men that accompanied the materials and men on election duties decided to avoid casualty by not engaging the unknown armed men in the middle of the river.
“However, I thank God that all the NYSC members on duty and other election duty officials have returned safely to office, except the SPO, whose phone is ringing but he is not picking.”
But according to a witness, Justus Enyianya, the incident happened at about 9:00 am while election officials were on their way to election duty at Affafanya community
Enyianya, who is a fisherman along Agikpo- Igonigonu river axis, said: “While I was fishing, I noticed that some people were driving with speed boat trying to catch up with INEC people.
“On getting close to them, they opened fire and hijacked the materials and also carried away one of the INEC officers.”