From Chris Anucha, Molly Kilete, Tony John, Port Harcourt
THE Rivers State rerun election for the National and State Assembly seats was held yesterday amid watertight security.
The election was conducted to fill the three senatorial, some National
Assembly and State Assembly seats. In Rivers East, the contest was between the two major parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In Rivers West, the contest was between
Osinakachukwu Ideozu of PDP and Otelemaba Dan Amachree of the APC.
In Rivers East, Senator George Sekibo of PDP slugged it out with Chief Andrew Uchendu of APC, while Senator Magnus Ngei Abe of APC and Olaka Nwogu of PDP fought fo the Rivers South East senatorial seat.
Similarly, 12 out of 13 House of Representatives seats were contested for while election were held to fill 22 out of 32 State Assembly seats.
The election also witnessed the heavy presence of security opperatives in most the state, at the state head office of the Independent National Electoral Commissions (INEC), located along
Aba Road, Port Harcourt.
Among other places that witnessed heavy security presence were, the 23 local government councils, which served as Registration Area Centres (RAC), all junctions, markets, motor parks and identified blackspot.
For instance, more security check points were created along major roads in the state, and manned by stern-looking soldiers who wore white arms bands on the sleeves of their uniforms.
The few vehicles that plied the roads, especially those that were on special service thouroughly searched by security men at the various checkpoints, while pedestrians were made to raise their
hands, dominated the entrance to the INEC premises.
Visitors, INEC officials as well as journalists were thoroughly screened and made to present their identity cards before they were allowed entry into the premises. Voting started very late in most parts of the state, owing to late arrival of electoral materials to the wards and polling units while people
kept away from the elction as result of tension created by threats and hate speeches by major political actors in the state.
Checks revealed that voting which was supposed to start at 8am and end by 2pm, did not commence in most centres and wards till about noon. Some polling units even commenced accreditation
few minutes to the end of exercise.
The state governor, Chief Nyesome Wike, cast his vote in Ward 15, Unit 7 in Rumueprikom at 11 58am. His wife Justice Suzzette Nyesome Wike, who accompanied him to the polling unit also cast her vote. The governor commended people in his area for coming out to vote.
He also commended the security agencies for providing security, but berated INEC, saying the commission appeared not ready for the re-run election in the state.
His political rival and Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, cast his vote in Ward 8, Unit 14 Ubima, about 12:15pm while the APC governorship candidate in the
2015 general elections and the current Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside cast his vote in Ward 3, Unit 6 at 11:03am.
Speaking to journalists, Amaechi complained bitterly about what he called “harrasement of APC members”, while Dakuku said the election was characterised by an atmosphere of violence.
Some of the places visited by Sunday Sun included Rumuomasi, Elekahia, Rumuobiakani, Woji, Aba road, Eleme, Obigbo, Borokiri, Rumuepririkom, Rumuodomaya, among others.
At Obio/Akpor unit 14, 15 and 16 electoral officers were yet to arrive the units as at 10am when the reporter visited the area.
However, police personnel deployed to the area were fully on ground at the unit which also had party agents from the various political parties, who said they had been there since 7am at a primary school which also serve as a RAC, materials were still being distributed to INEC officials when
Sunday Sun visited the area. Some elctoral officers, who spoke to Sunday Sun also complained that result sheets were yet to get to the centre as at 10am, Thus making it difficult for them to dispatch the officials and materials.
Also at Woji, as at 10.30am when Sunday Sun visited, accreditation of voters had not yet commenced.
There was pandemonium at Akpajo-Eleme, when some soldiers and policemen, who escorted INEC
materials and officials to Akpajo Primary school, which also serve as a RAC, were confronted by some youths in the area, belived to be party agents for the two major political parties.
The youths in their large numbers, on sighting the soldiers and policemen
escorting the electoral materials and officials, ran towards the soldiers chanting negative and provocative songs, and surrounded the patrol vehicle.
But the soldiers resisted the youths from gaining access into the venue,
insisting that only accredited officials would be allowed inside. The soldiers later left, after the vehicle conveying the electoral materials were driven inside the premises and the gate closed.
There was also crisis at the crisis at Rumuokoro area but it was immediately brought under control as more policemen were deployed to the troubled area.
At Abonnema wharf, Sunday Sun gathered that some criminals invaded the Registration Area Center (RAC), through the waterways, in a bid to cart away electoral materials but meet a stiff resistance from the mobile police men deploed to the area who engaged them in a shootout. In some other areas
visited, accreditation of voters started at 11:40 am, after officials and electoral materials arrived the centres.
Some of the polling officers, who spoke to Sunday Sun acknowledged that they arrived the polling unit, late but argued that the attitude of party agents did not help matters, as they engaged in arguement that nearlt caused a free-for-all fight. There were allegations by Peoples Democratic Party of fake result
sheets. The allegation instigated crisis in Bonny, Gokana, among others.