Rivers council polls hold today despite threats
We Are On Standby, Says Army
The Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) has declared that no threat would prevent it from going ahead with the conduct of today’s local government election.Amid threat to disrupt the election in some councils, the Police and other security agencies would be deploying about 15, 000 personnel across the state to beef up security.
RSIEC spokesperson, Sarah Menney-Amgbara, told The Guardian that in view of threat to disrupt the polls, the electoral body had partnered with the various security agencies to ensure a hitch-free election, stressing that the commission was not perturbed by moves to disrupt the polls and would go ahead with the exercise in the 23 councils of the state.She expressed optimism that the poll, which is being contested by 66 political parties, would be hitch-free if the political actors play according to the rules, saying that the electoral commission was committed to ensuing a credible, free and fair election.
Menney-Amgbara explained that RSIEC had begun moving election materials to the riverine communities since Thursday, while those for the upland areas were sent out yesterday.According to her, all sensitive election materials would be released from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by midnight today.Governor Nyesom Wike had in a state broadcast on Thursday claimed that the government has intelligence that a faction All Progressive Congress (APC) was arming thugs to disrupt today’s election, an allegation the party has since denied.
The APC is boycotting the election, pending litigation against the state government over the sack of 22 elected council chairmen elected barely a week before the expiration of the tenure of immediate past administration in 2015,A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt that sacked the council executives had hinged its decision on the fact that they were elected in flagrant disobedience of a valid and subsisting order restraining RSIEC from conducting the May 23 2015 poll.
As part of effort to ensure a hitch-free poll, the state Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, who announced the deployment of 15,000 personnel to ensure a free, fair, creditable and violence-free poll, said the security agencies have braced up to the challenge of the election and accordingly put in place, adequate security measures to ensure the exercise is devoid of any violence.
The Police said there would be total restriction of movement of persons, vehicles, both land and air, between 7am and 4pm, warning that dignitaries and politicians are barred from going to any voting centre with security details during the poll to prevent any security breach.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army, yesterday, said soldiers would be on standby to forestall possible violence in the election.Spokesman of the Nigerian Army 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that soldiers would be deployed at strategic points several kilometres away from polling centres.He explained that the army was adopting that position because ìwe are not directly involved in the election and no soldier is going to be deployed for any election duty.
According to Iliyasu, it is only the Police and Department of State Service (DSS) that have the constitutional responsibility to provide security in the election, adding: ìHowever, we are always on alert whenever there is election. We will only be on standby at the periphery in case our services are needed.Iliyasu said that soldiers were banned from going into polling centres and escort polling materials to the centres.
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