• Party clinches 10 constituencies, APC one • INEC cancels elections in eight
• Wike, Peterside trade accusations • Fayose blames Buhari for violence
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been declared winner in 10 state constituencies in Saturday’s rerun House of Assembly elections in Rivers State.
The party won in Akuku Toru 1, Omuma, Degema, Ahoada East 1, Ahaoda East 2, Emohua, Akuku – Toru 2, Obio- Akpor 1, Obio-Akpor 2 and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) won in Opobo.
In a related development, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the cancellation of elections in Etche and Asari-Toru local councils bringing the total number of councils where elections were cancelled to eight.
The Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, has blamed the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside, for the incident that led to the shooting to death of the aide to his chief of staff yesterday by security operatives.
But Peterside has refuted Wike’s claim, insisting that he too narrowly escaped death after his vehicle was attacked by gunmen in two utility vehicles on his way from the airport.
He said his orderly, Emman Esi was shot by the unknown gunmen.
In a statement released yesterday, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak, gave the reason for the cancelation, saying:“Further to our earlier pronouncement on the suspension of the re-run in the six local government areas of Khana, Bonny, Gokana, Andoni, Tai and Eleme, following disturbances and violence that impeded the electoral process in those parts of the state, it has become necessary to suspend elections in Etche and Asari-Toru councils for the same reasons.
“Please note that the suspension of the re-run elections by INEC is necessitated by the need to forestall breakdown of law and order in the event of further aggravation of crisis.
“INEC needs to put all stakeholders on notice that we are still studying the situation in the other 15 local councils where collations are currently going on.”
The electoral umpire further cited violence, snatching of ballot boxes, non-compliance to electoral law as part of the reasons for cancellation.
It was learnt that the commission would not conduct a re-run of the national and state legislative elections in the eight affected local governments areas until it has conducted a staff audit of its ad-hoc personnel that were deployed to conduct the elections on behalf of the commission
In another development, Wike and the Minster of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi stormed the police station in Mile 1 over results for Ward 10 of Port Harcourt City Council as the electoral official in charge of the ward, allegedly went missing on Saturday but re-surfaced at the state capital on Sunday and was promptly whisked away to the station.
While Amaechi was accompanied by Acting Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, director general of Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Dr. Dakuku Peterside, in Wike’s entourage were former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Austin Opara, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chairman Local Government Service Commission, Mr. Azubuike Emeregini, senatorial candidate of the PDP for Rivers East, Chief George Sekibo and others. Hundred party supporters of both parties took over the premises of the police station, spilling over to the ever-busy Ikwerre Road, causing a major traffic gridlock.
There was also heavy security presence as soldiers, policemen and men of the Department of State Security who accompanied the party leaders were positioned strategically on the premises. Later the party leaders drove out of the station with their supporters. What transpired there wasn’t really clear as at press time.
Both APC and PDP had accused each other of hijacking the collation officer in order to manipulate the results.
Blaming Peterside for the shooting of the aide to his Chief of Staff, Wike said PDP supporters had chased the APC governorship candidate in the 2015 election from Isiokpo, in Ikwerre local council to Port Harcourt following allegations that he, in company of the APC House of Assembly candidate for the council, snatched the result sheet.
Wike explained that the electoral officer had told the PDP stalwarts that he wanted to take the result for Ikwerre Constituency to INEC office in Port Harcourt. But when the electoral officer did not stop at INEC office in Port Harcourt, they chased them to the DSS office where he and Peterside took refugee.
DSS officers were alleged to have shot at the Chief of Staff’s aide who was among the people chasing Peterside and the electoral officer.
Besides, Ekiti State governor Ayodele Fayose has said President Muhammadu Buhari must be held accountable for the violence and loss of lives in the rerun elections.
He said members of the president’s party, the APC were emboldened to unleash violence on the people of Rivers State and other states in Nigeria because they know the president won’t lift a finger provided his party members are the ones perpetrating evil.
He also called for the immediate sacking of the Chairman of Independent Electoral National Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for “shoddy preparation for the election.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers State government has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of two of its officials, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Kenneth Kobani and Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Projects, Cyril Wite.
According to Fayose : “Those who found fault with the Ekiti state governorship election in which soldiers and other security agents made sure there was no violence and no lives were lost during and after the election should be asked what the Rivers election in which eight people were killed and several others injured will be called.”
Fayose who spoke yesterday through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said President Buhari’s way was to protect his party people, hence their boldness to perpetrate evil.
The governor maintained that Buhari’s culpability in the killings in Rivers State and the manner INEC has destroyed the legacy of free, fair and transparent elections bequeathed to Nigeria by the PDP government former President Goodluck Jonathan was not in doubt.