INEC has disagreed with Governor Wike over who to blame for the violence during Rivers by-election – The commission praised the Nigeria police for efforts to stop the violence while the governor blamed the police for initiating it – The commission also described the election violence in Rivers state as a ‘shameful’ act Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disagreed with Governor Nyesom Wike’s allegation that the police should be blamed for the violence that marred the Saturday, August 18, by-election in Rivers state. While the INEC chief praised the police for wading in and preventing total break down of law and order during the election, Governor Wike blamed the police for causing the violence that marred the election. The Nation reports that three INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), Obo Effanga (Rivers), Mike Igini (Akwa Ibom) and Cyril Omoregbe (Bayelsa), who conducted the election, gave the account of what transpired at a news conference in Port Harcourt on Sunday, August 19
Effanga said: “The Commission in full readiness for the said election deployed personnel and materials to the 142 polling units involved. However, midway, miscreants and hoodlums accompanied by heavily armed security personnel in uniform stormed the various polling units and registration areas, disrupting voting activities, destroying and carting away election materials, including smart card readers and ballot boxes. In addition, many electoral officials were manhandled, injured and held hostage. Igini said: “What happened yesterday (Saturday) was a tragedy. It was shameful. It represents a higher level of electoral discredit and falls below the minimum expected standards. Election must be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere which will allow voters to vote and leave the centre without grumbling.
“While election was going on, there was violence in significant areas of the polling centres. Some journalists, INEC staff, including NYSC members were attacked and held hostage during the election. An official of the the Commission was stabbed, others beaten up. Also, a Corps member’s leg was broken, individuals beaten and injured. “Thanks to the security personnel who worked with us, they were not part of those who disrupted the election as they were not armed according to the law.”