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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended the ongoing legislative rerun election in six of the 23 local government areas (LGAs) of Rivers state over widespread violence.

Aniedi Ikoiwak, resident electoral commissioner (REC), announced this on Saturday, listing the affected LGAs as Bonny, Gokana, Abua/Odual, Khana, Eleme and Andoni.

He said some party agents attacked INEC officials for allegedly using fake election materials in their areas, an allegation he denied.

“All INEC materials used for the election are genuine,” he said.

The heavy deployment of security men – over 6,000 policemen were posted to the state for the election, supported by soldiers and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) – could not guarantee a hitch-free poll.

Though violence was among the reason which made the tribunal and appeal court to order a fresh election in the state, break down of law and order was recorded across most parts of  Rivers on Saturday.

An INEC official told TheCable that dynamites were used to blow up the commission’s office in Gokana, while electoral materials were hijacked by suspected thugs in Bonny.

In Abua LGA, INEC officials were stranded as there was no security provision to move across the water, and election could not hold in most parts of Khana.

Tambari Ntoti, an agent of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nonwa community, Tai LGA, was shot dead.

James Gogo, a resident of Ahoda west, alleged that most of the ad hoc staff deployed in the area were not members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) but militants.

“Some of these guys are well known in the state. I have no interest whatsoever in this election, and I am not in support of any party. Some of these INEC staff are known militants,” he said.

In different polling units in Port Harcourt, the state capital, voters were still expecting the arrival of electoral officials hours after the exercise had been concluded in other areas.

After casting his vote at ward 9, unit 7, Whimpy Junction in Obi Akpor, Nyesom Wike, governor of the state, said while security personnel gave a good account of themselves, the same could not be said of INEC.

“I think that INEC is not prepared for the election. If they are not ready, they shouldn’t be telling people that they are ready,” he told journalists.

The election was initially scheduled to hold across 319 wards and 4,442 polling units of the state.

Ikoiwak said a new date would be announced for the rerun election in the affected areas.
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