Saturday, 9th December 2023

Violence in Rivers as voters protest ‘manipulation’ of results

By Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt 
27 February 2023   |   1:12 am
Angry youths in Rivers State have protested against alleged manipulation of presidential election results in the state. The youths, who came out en masse to vote, had, on Saturday night, refused to go home...

• Labour rejects results, calls for cancellation 
• AA guber candidate warns against interference

Angry youths in Rivers State have protested against alleged manipulation of presidential election results in the state. The youths, who came out en masse to vote, had, on Saturday night, refused to go home, insisting that officials of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must upload election results before exiting polling units. 

Voters at Ward 12, Unit 11 in Port Harcourt City Council blocked the exit way for INEC officials, insisting the results  must  be uploaded. It took intervention of security agencies to bring the situation under control, assuring that the electoral officers would upload the results. 

Also, there were sporadic shootings and vandalism of vehicles travelling along Igwuruta-Elele-Airport Road in Ikwerre Council of Rivers State by the protesting youths, who alleged that ballot  boxes in the  area were hijacked when it was  noticed  that Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, was winning. 

One of the victims, whose vehicle was vandalised,  said: “I was just coming back from where I went to cast my vote when I ran into angry youths, who claimed ballot boxes in their area were snatched, when Peter Obi was winning. When I saw they were shooting sporadically, I parked my car. But they still vandalised it. They should allow whoever is winning to win.”

He alleged that thugs, believed to be agents of the state government, invaded various polling units and collation centres, took away election materials, including result sheets.”

Meanwhile, the leadership of Labour Party has expressed shocked  over developments in the state. A statement signed by the National Chairman of party, Julius Abure, and made available  to The Guardian  in Port Harcourt read: “We took particular note of incidents in places like Obio/Akpor, Khana, Eleme, Obigbo, Rumukoro and other areas, where Labour Party was clearly leading with very wide margins. Governor Nyesom Wike, faced with the stark reality of defeat even in the polling units in his compound in Worji, where LP scored 323 votes against APC and PDP’s 5 and 2 votes respectively, used soldiers and police to intimidate, harass and snatch ballot papers.

“Nigerians went into this election based on assurances by INEC that the deployment of BVAS was a perfect antidote to electoral malpractices in Nigeria, but what transpired across Nigeria, if allowed to stand, is purely a betrayal of trust by millions of Nigerians on INEC.

“INEC’s staff were intimidated by the thugs in connivance with the military and police officers into doing their bidding and were forced to manipulate the BVAS, being afraid of the consequences of their refusal.”

It urged INEC to cancel all the unverified and manipulated results arising from the presidential and National Assembly elections in parts of the state, particularly Obio/Akpor, Khana, Eleme, Obigbo and Rumukoro, amongst others.

This is as the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) in Rivers State, Dr. Dawari George, warned against any act of interference with the will of Rivers people as expressed in the Presidential and National Assembly elections. 
George, in a broadcast, yesterday, to Rivers people, expressed “deep concern” over reports of attempts by state and non-state actors to subvert the will of the people as expressed in their voting preference. 

George, who noted that the 2023 presidential election was of great significance to the future of the country and the state, said it was very important that every citizen be heard and respected. 

Speaking on the development, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in the state, Tony Okocha, said whoever wins should  be declared  the winner.

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