The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yeserday said more than 25 of its staff members were receiving medical attention as a result of attacks suffered during Saturday’s supplementary election in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Port Harcourt, the state capital, Aniedi Ikoiwak, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), blamed the attacks on the people of Rivers.
He said one of the victims just regained consciousness last Sunday.
“This is one area that Nigerians should ask questions: over 25 INEC staff members are in hospital today because the people of Rivers state decided to either kill or wound them,” he said.
“They were all beaten up because they went to those villages to conduct an election.
“Let the people of Rivers State tell us the offence any of them committed. What did they do? They were bringing materials for the election; they decided to descend on them, beat them up, collect their personal belongings and run away.”
Ikoiwak noted that the victims were on official duty and needed a peaceful environment to achieve success.
He called on Nigerians to condemn the alleged attack.
“It is very sad. None of them was beaten up in his home but where they went to conduct an election,” he said.
“Why shouldn’t Nigerians discuss that? Why should people sent to conduct an election be beaten up and their belongings taken away from them?”
But the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, has described the election as one of the most peaceful in the history of the state.
Speaking at a church service in Port Harcourt, Wike commended security operatives for the role they played in the exercise.
“For the first time, I want to commend the security operatives in the state. If they have been doing this way, we wouldn’t have been having problems in this state,” he said.
“This is the first election I have seen in my life, since this government came, that you don’t see too much involvement of security operatives and that is why nobody has died, that’s why the election went on peacefully.
“I told the opposition party, because security is not interfering, that’s why you can’t get one seat. If they were carrying [electoral] materials as they used to do before, they would have allocated some seats.“So, I want to commend them.”
About 700 staff members of INEC were mobilised for the supplementary legislative election in Etche.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) had withdrawn from assisting INEC in the election due to security issues.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) emerged victorious in the exercise.