By Nseobong Okon-Ekong
Protesters yesterday took to the streets in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, to decry the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt the electoral process without credible and verifiable reasons.
Led by human rights activists, who carried placards, some of which read, “We Want Awara”, the protesters swept through major routes in the capital city on their way to office of the Directorate of State Services, DSS.
The protesters headed for the INEC headquarters to complain about the a anomalies.
Speaking with reporters, Dr Jackson Omenazu, President of the International Society for Social Justice and Human Rights warned that Rivers State would degenerate into serious crisis if INEC continues with its manipulation of the electoral process.
“We call on Nigerians and INEC National Leadership to hold Obo Effanga responsible for any breakdown of law and order in Rivers State. A partisan electoral umpire is a catalyst to anarchy.
“The abuse of section 26 sub section (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, and the ignoble actions by the Rivers State REC must not go unpunished. When an agent of state (INEC) collaborates to undermine the State, such agent must be treated as felon,” Jackson Omenazu stressed.
He said prior to the suspension of the Rivers, “It is on record that only seven LGAs have officially been announced by INEC Rivers State.”
“INEC has cited widespread violence and disruptions as reasons adduced for the suspension of the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State.
“Why is it that those who ochestrated the violence (as with the case of Obio/Akpor collation centre) were not reprimanded in the report of the INEC Fact Finding Committee?
He said INEC told a bewildered state five days after the suspension that it has 17 LGA election results in its custody already collated.
“In one breath elections were marred with widespread violence; in another breath 17 LGAs were already in their kitty,” he stressed.
According to him, the INEC claim suggests that 75% of the result were collated in circumstances that are not convincing.
Jackson noted that due to INEC’s action, coupled with the delay weeks after the election to collate the results, Rivers people have developed doubts about the credibility of the results that INEC claims to have.
Across the State, an increasing number of angry natives reckon INEC is attempting to skew the outcome of the gubernatorial elections held on March 9.
Organisers of several processions billed for this week who belong to civil society groups stress that the wave of popular dissatisfaction which has greeted INEC’s intervention is growing by the day.
This, the organisers reveal, is why they have resolved to march through the streets of the state capital to register their protest.