Rivers: Security threatens, intimidates electoral, collation officers

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As officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) complete collation of results of Rivers State governorship and House of Assembly elections results, today, security operatives attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the state are reportedly trying to intimidate them; to frustrate the exercise.

INEC had ordered collation of the results of the March 9 elections, after it earlier suspended electoral processes in Rivers, following widespread violence aggravated by the activities of soldiers.

Daily Sun gathered that SARS operatives, on the orders of a top officer in Rivers, invited INEC officers, returning officers and Ad hoc staff participating in collation of results to threaten and intimidate them.

Sources revealed that the SARS operatives are asking the electoral officers to allege theft of the election materials or they would be dealt with.

The INEC electoral officers, it was learnt, have however, vowed not to succumb to the threats but to do what is right. They promised to do their job conscientiously by collating the results and declaring them.

Rivers elections have been dogged by controversies; following the use of soldiers to disrupt result collation.

The Nigerian Army is investigating the activities of soldiers who have been indicted in reports on the elections.

Soldiers reportedly attempted to snatch authentic results and then force INEC officials to announced fake results in many collation officers before INEC suspended the exercise.

Meanwhile, Senator Magnus Abe, representing Rivers South East has said no one can handpick a governor for Rivers state.

Abe said the right to do so rests squarely on the shoulders of Rivers people; to freely choose who will lead them.

He said this at the funeral service of Pa Macdonald Graham Harry, father of Dr. Ipalibo Harry, Federal Commissioner, National Population Commission, held at Saint Alban’s Anglican Church Obuama, Degema Local Government Area of the state.

The lawmaker condemned the violence which characterised the March 9 governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state, describing it as a shame.

He further said the election was not only an embarrassment to the country, but unacceptable, even as he wondered why people have failed to learn from the past.

“All across the country, you could see that the people tried to vote. They also tried to count their votes, but, in Rivers state, the reverse was the case because it was obvious we did not learn from what happened in the 2015 general election and draw our lessons appropriately.

 “I’ll like to appeal to Rivers people not to leave the future of our state in the hands of the politicians alone. This state belongs to all of us and no one man owns more or deserves more of Rivers state than others.

“I was very clear when I called on our supporters in the state to vote for a candidate of their choice, in the governorship election, and not vote for the governorship candidate of the African Action Congress because, it was an attempt to single-handedly handpick a governor for Rivers people.

“That is a decision all Rivers people have as a right to freely participate in; a process to elect whoever will govern the state,” Abe emphasised.

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