Again, Wike refuses to vote at council polls
As Apathy, Shooting, Violence Mar Election
The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has again failed to cast his vote at the local Government election in his home, Obio/Akpor Ward 9, Unit 7.
This is the second time Wike failed to participate in local council election. In the 2018 Local government elections, which brought the outgoing chairman and his ward counsellor into power, he reportedly shunned the exercise.
Journalists had arrived the governor’s home Rumupirikom Polling Unit in Obio Akpor Local Government Area as early as 8am to witness him cast his vote, and perhaps respond to the widespread voter apathy that characterised the election.
Sadly, Wike failed to turn up during the voting exercise that lasted for about four hours. It was gathered that the Social Democratic Party (SDP) councillorship candidate in Apani Ikwerre Local Government Area, Hope Amadi, was beaten and chased into the bush.
Also, at Opobo/Nkoro LGA, hoodlums reportedly attacked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Councillorship candidate in Ward 7, Tumini Jaja.
The election equally witnessed sporadic shootings and snatching of ballot boxes. The shooting was reported at Ward 8, Bomu town, in Gokana Local Government Area.
Among the 17 political parties on the ballot box, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was not on the ballot, as it opted out of the election, due to a lingering court case on the LG poll it conducted in 2015.
Some voters described the election as a ‘town hall’ meeting, where PDP is expected to have a field day. As at 8.30, few persons were sighted at Ward 6, Unit 20 Oginigba, Ward 11, Unit 1, Rumueme Obio/Akpor Local Council and other centres in Port Harcourt and Ikwere Local Government Area.
Checks by The Guardian revealed that by 9:30 am and 10am, voting materials were yet to get to the polling stations. At St. Andrews Primary School, Mile One axis of Port Harcourt, materials were yet to arrive at the 13 units at about 10.30am.
In Ward 9, close to Wike ‘s family house, there were disagreements, when a party agent was prevented from leaving the polling unit by security operatives.
Armed police personnel mounted roadblocks at different strategic points, including Ikwere Road, Mile 3 and UST Roundabout, among others.
In Port Harcourt and some areas in Obio/akpor Council, the directive by Governor Wike was complied with, as all markets and shops were closed.
However, in the Ogoni axis, especially in Khana and Gokana local government areas, social and commercial activities went on as usual.
Further monitoring revealed that a group of men at the Rumuokwrushi Ward 3, Obio/Akpor local government area approached a polling unit opposite the Civic Centre brandishing cutlasses and shot into the air before carting away a ballot box. The situation caused panic in the area, as voters scampered for safety.
In Tai LGA, specifically in Koroma community, materials were distributed to all six wards there, while elections commenced in Nonwa community about 9.30am.
Some candidates accused PDP of intimidation and hijacking voting materials. The African Action Congress councillorship candidate, identified as Nnamdi, said the ruling party refused his party agents access to election materials at the polling unit.
Similarly, candidate of the Action Alliance for Ward 2, Kana Nwibari said, “There was no election in Ward 2. Materials were hijacked by some PDP chieftains, including the councillorship candidate at Bowe Police Station. The materials were later replaced with RSIEC ballot bags.”
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