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Amidst complaints, INEC gives self thumps up on Rivers rerun poll

By Wahab Akanji, Abuja and Tom Amkri, Port Harcourt
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described the conduct of the Saturday re-run legislative elections in Rivers as an improvement compared to the suspended exercise in March in the state.
This however runs contrary to series of complaints, especially from the members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who have continued to find faults in the process that kicked off early in the morning.
The Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, in a telephone interview with newsmen on Saturday in Abuja said that though there were few cases of violence during the election, there was no confirmed case of killing.
“Generally, the trail of violent is not as what we witnessed in March. In March, a person was killed and the commission was forced to close the election, but in this Saturday exercise, there is no strong indication for us to say that we are suspending the election again.
“We think that relatively, we should be able to conclude the process peacefully, the security agencies should be commended for securing most of the places used for the elections. Voting in some places have been concluded and collation ongoing.
“We are assuring Nigerians that we are building on our achievements in Edo and Ondo in term of credibility of elections in the country,’’ he said.
The chief press secretary further said that there were measures put in place to ensure that collation of results remain peaceful and transparent.
“A lot of precautionary measures have been put in place to ensure that hijacking of election results witnessed in the suspended elections in March does not reoccur.’’
This position contrast sharply with the view of a former member of the Senate, Mr. Lee Maeba who was unable to vote as materials were carted away to the home of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Khana Local Government.
He lamented the inability of the voters who trooped out very early in the morning to cast their ballot, saying about 2,400 voters have been disenfranchised.
“We had started mobilising the people as early as possible, I have been here, this 12 noon. We waited and at about 11 am, I received a call that the materials for about four voting units have been taken to the house of an APC chieftain.” he said.
The process has been fraught with violence is some areas.
For instance, at Ward 9 Unit 3 in Bolo in Ogu Bolo in Okrika Local Government, election was discontinued due to violence prompting security agents to escort voting materials back to INEC office.

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