Soldiers collaborated with thugs to intimidate us in Rivers – INEC

The leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission has revealed that some armed thugs, as well as soldiers, harassed and even illegally arrested some their staff during the Rivers state governorship election on March 9.

In a statement released by the commission on Friday night, INEC explained how soldiers and the thugs disrupted electoral processes in the state and tried to “to subvert the will of the people.”

The statement, which was signed by the National Chairman of the commission, stated that subsequently, INEC will call for security men through the Federal Government and ask that they remain neutral and show professionalism during the supplementary elections.

It reads, “On March 10, 2019, the commission suspended all electoral processes in Rivers State having determined that there was widespread disruption of collation of results of the elections conducted on March 9, 2019. Subsequently, the commission set up a fact-finding committee to assess the situation and report back within 48 hours.

“The commission met on March 15, 2019, and considered the report of the committee and established that the governorship and State Assembly elections took place in most of the polling units and results were announced.

“The results from 17 Local Governments out of 23 are available and are in the commission’s custody. The declaration and returns for 21 State constituencies out of 32 were made prior to the suspension.

“Collation centers were invaded by some soldiers and armed gangs resulting in the intimidation and unlawful arrest of election officials thereby disrupting the collation process.

“Consequent upon the foregoing, the Commission expresses its displeasure with the role played by some soldiers and armed gangs in Rivers State disrupting the collation process and attempting to subvert the will of the people.

“The commission is committed to expeditious completion of the collation process where results of the elections have been announced. We will engage the security agencies at the national level and the IACC at the State level to demand neutrality and professionalism of security personnel in order to secure a peaceful environment for the completion of the elections.

“We will also engage with key stakeholders in Rivers State with a view to ensuring a smooth and peaceful completion of the process. INEC issue detailed timelines and activities for the completion of the election on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.”