Angry voters staged violent protests in Khana and Tai local councils of Rivers State over alleged swap of election materials.
It was learnt that the ballot papers allocated for the governorship poll in Ikwerre Local Council were diverted to the above-mentioned areas. The development infuriated the voters, who had come out as early as 8.00 a.m. to express their franchise.
The protesters were, however, dispersed by security agents, who shot teargas canisters to disperse them.
There were also cases of snatching of ballot boxes and Bi-Modal Voters Accreditation Machine System (BVAS). Some voters were also flogged, harassed and forced to vote for a particular candidate.
Opposition party agents and supporters were chased away from some polling units in Rumueme, Rumekpirikom in Obio-Akpor Local Council of the state, as well as some parts in Port Harcourt City Local Council.
Earlier, about 22 BVAS machines were also reportedly stolen. Meanwhile, despite the low turnout in some parts of the state, Ogoni areas witnessed massive turnout.
Also, as at 10.30 a.m., no voter had arrived at Unit 60, Ward 10 in Obio-Akpor Local Council.
Unlike the February 25 elections that people came out en masse to vote, this time, the enthusiasm was very low. Governor Nyesom Wike’s Polling Unit 7, Ward 9, recorded low turnout compared to the last polls.
The residents said they were discouraged because the last elections were not encouraging, saying they were “not credible, free, fair and transparent.”
Very few voters were seen at several polling units visited in Port Harcourt City Council.
As at 10.00am, only security agents and Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) officials were seen at Ward 4,Unit 3, Unit 1 and 2, ward 12 in Obio-Akpor Council while voters were snarling down.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship Candidate in the state, Siminialayi Fubara, voted about 10.15a.m. at Unit 8, Ward 5 in Opobo-Nkoro Local Council of the state.
He scored INEC high and praised the people for their peaceful disposition and good turnout in the area.
Also, the Labour Party candidate, Beatrice Itubo, who voted at Ward 1, Unit 6 in Okporowo Community in Emohua Local Council, alleged that the PDP agents prevented voters, who were not willing to vote for a particular candidate.
She said: “ People were not allowed to vote. We called for the intervention of the security agencies on this. We want free and fair elections this time”.
On his part, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Governorship Candidate, Senator Magnus Abe, shortly after voting in Gokana Local Council in Ogoni, described Rivers State as the ‘worst State’ in Nigeria.
Abe said the experience in the governorship polls was worse than that of February 25.
He alleged that voters were beaten and prevented from voting for the party of their choice. They were forced to vote for the PDP.
Abe said: “ In Ogoni, materials not meant for Ogoni were brought here with deliberate intention to disenfranchise the people”.
“This particular election is not transparent. Nigerians are being denied the real benefits of democracy. There is a deliberate act to frustrate the voters from Ogoni. This is unacceptable by any standard. Nigeria cannot continue like this.”
He, however, denied, the allegations against him by the State Governor, Nyesom Wike that he connived with the Director of Security of INEC, and one Leebari, who is from Ogoni to bridge security protocols. Abe described such as “childish.”
Wike who voted at Polling Unit 7, Ward 9, in Obio-Akpor Local Council about 11.15 a.m., attributed the voter’s apathy witnessed across the state to discouragement.
Wike said: “When the first election came and people didn’t get what they wanted, they would be discouraged.
“Whatever the case may be, you can’t force people to go out and vote. But, I am happy with the peaceful way the process is going. It means the security men are doing their job well.”
Wike described as unfortunate the role allegedly played by the Director of Security of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in the reported breach in security concerning the conduct of yesterday’s governorship election in the state.
Wike said: “Even if INEC has denied it, which is expected, I can tell you that the Director of Security in INEC headquarters, one Leebari, was the one who carried out that act because Magnus Abe (SPD candidate) is from Ogoni and the Director of Security is from Ogoni.
“So, I don’t want to go into details. If not, heads will roll. But for the Director of Security in such a sensitive commission to breach security is quite appalling.
“We thank God that the national headquarters has come out to deny it and security agencies have taken note of it. They are working accordingly.”
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