Anxiety in Rivers a INEC resumes collation of guber poll results on Tuesday

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Rivers State is on knife’s edge as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) resumes the collation of suspended governorship and State House of Assembly elections results on tomorrow, Tuesday, amid fears that the exercise, which will conclude the most protracted elections, will be disrupted.

The abrupt suspension of the collation of governorship election result in particular on March 10 due to military and political thugs’ interference with the process and uncertainty caused by INEC, which claimed it already had results for 17 out of the 23 local government areas in the state and the need to expeditiously conclude the exercise and declare the winner has left Rivers State in political limbo.

Rather than douse tension, the delay to conclude the process has thrown up issues and Rivers State into further turmoil as top chieftains of All Progressives Congress (APC), which was barred from the general elections, and their ally, the African Action Congress (AAC), are said to be pressuring the presidency to prevail on INEC for outright cancellation of the election over allegation of fraud.

But the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has denounced the fraud rhetoric, as fantasies designed to provoke violence to pave way for declaration of a state of emergency. Hope that the resumption of the collation will dissipate the tensed political atmosphere in the state has been ruptured by unnerving claims by the former deputy governorship candidate of AAC, Mr. Akpo Bomba Yeeh and the party’s state deputy chairman of AAC, Amezhinim Atuma, that all arrangements have been made to disrupt the collation and the announcement of the governorship and House of Assembly elections’ results.

Yeeh, who last week resigned his membership of AAC and defected to PDP said amidst outrage, APC and AAC members are still bent on subverting the manifest will of the people as they intend again to use security personnel to violently attack and attempt to frustrate and possibly prevent INEC from resuming results’ collation process from April 2 through 5, 2019 as already scheduled.

Similarly, Atuma who has also joined PDP hinged his decision to quit AAC on the plot to unleash mayhem on Rivers State if the collation resumes tomorrow.“As at March 27, 2019, every arrangement has been made to disrupt the collation and announcement of the governorship and House of Assembly elections’ results, as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) between April 2 and 5, 2019,” he said. “There are plans to cause bloodshed, leading to total breakdown of law and order between April 1 and 5, 2019. This is in furtherance of their plan to create a state of emergency in Rivers State, wherein Governor Wike’s term in office would have expired.”

Following the spate of demonstrations in Port Harcourt by supporters of both PDP and APC/AAC, the state has been on edge since last week. In anticipation of the possibility of confrontation between the contending parties, the state government on Thursday night banned all public protests in the state till further notice.

However, Rivers APC factional publicity secretary, Chris Finebone, said the state government might be unaware that Rivers people and indeed Nigerians have inalienable right to peaceful protest.

According to him, “It is necessary at this point to inform Governor Wike that his ban on protest is simply a waste of time and space. Nigeria Police cannot enforce an illegal ban except the governor intends to deploy his usual gun-toting hoodlums. He should remember that this is not 2015; this is 2019. If the governor tries it, he will not like the outcome and he knows it.”

Barely a few hours after the protest ban, the police had to deploy teargas to disperse both PDP and APC supporters who were planning to demonstrate from Tombia Street at GRA Phase 2 to INEC’s office along Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway which had been cordoned off by security personnel amid threats of possible attack at the resumption of collation of results.

The state’s PDP chairman, Felix Obuah, has accused APC chieftains of organising demonstrations in a bid to scuttle the collation and announcement of the results of March 9, 2019 Governorship and State Assembly elections.“It is clear that the APC is kicking against government’s ban on public protests as the ban will deflate their plans to cause crisis in the state. It is now obvious that APC is angry over the ban on public protests. They had intended to hide under public protests and use it as a weapon to unleash mayhem on the state which will in turn scuttle the collation and declaration of the governorship election results.”

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