Wike alleges ploy to disrupt by-election
Amid speculation of violence in today’s by-election to the fill the Port Harcourt Constituency III seat in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Governor Nyesom Wike, in a statewide broadcast, alleged that he had it on good authority that some politicians were planning to use cultists and political thugs to intimidate voters and attempt to disrupt the voting process.
This comes as the Police deployed 1500 personnel to monitor election to fill the seat, which became vacant, following the resignation of Mr. Victor Ihunwo as a member of the state legislature to contest for the office the Chairman of Port Harcourt City Local Government Council, which he won in June.
The governor warned that the state government would not close its eyes to such acts by any person or group of persons to deny the people of the constituency their right to freely and fairly elect their leaders.
He stressed that the state government would not hesitate to apply the full weight and force of the law on any offender, adding: “We, therefore, advise all those who have no business with the election process to, in their own interest, keep their distance from the constituency during the duration of the by-election.”
Wike stated that INEC and the relevant security agencies have pledged to conduct credible election under the right atmosphere, noting that though the people expect nothing less, they must remain vigilant, saying: “The people of Rivers State expect and demand nothing less. Consequently, we take INEC and the security agencies at their word and expect them to deliver a by-election in the affected constituency devoid of any electoral malfeasance.”
In a bid to ensure that the exercise is conducted under a peaceful atmosphere devoid of rancour, the governor declared restriction of movement across the constituency between 7am and 7pm.
“The Rivers State Government has put adequate measures to ensure that the by-election is highly successful and the outcome generally acceptable. Part of such measures include the restriction of vehicular movements in the entire length and breadth of Port Harcourt Constituency III, as well as the closure of the following roads and routes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 18,” he stated.
Similarly, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, said 1,500 Police personnel would be deployed to collaborate with other security agencies to ensure a violent free by-election today.
Ahmed said the operatives would ensure peaceful, free and fair exercise and appealed to all residents to cooperate as those concerned carry out with their civic responsibility.
He also warned politicians and the high and mighty in the state against going to the voting centres in the company of their security details, urging them to comply with the provision of the Electoral Act by restricting their movements within their voting centres only to avoid unpleasant encounter with security agencies. “The Police and security agencies will be monitoring the exercise to ensure that there is due compliance to this directive. Therefore, any person or group of persons in default will be arrested and prosecuted,” he warned.
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