Rivers Rerun: Situation Room Decries Violence, Hails INEC

The Nigeria civil society situation room has decried the violence that
trailed the recent rerun election for a house of representatives
and state assembly position in Etche local government area of Rivers
state. The election held on February 25, 2017.

They however commended the Independent National Electoral Commission’s
(INEC) for concluding the polls despite the difficult conditions.
A statement by the group of civil societies reads “It was to the
Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) credit that the
poll was concluded in difficult conditions but once again a Rivers
state poll was seriously marred by violence despite extraordinary
levels of security.

“We are deeply concerned that despite reports of the Police deploying
3,500 personnel to a single LGA election alongside significant
military forces, violence and manipulation were bad enough for 25 INEC
staff to be hospitalized and for 44 of 147 polling units to be
cancelled.
“We unreservedly condemn the violence that was driven by the two major
political parties in the poll.
“We also condemn the pressure placed on the two constituency collation
officers by the Rivers state governor in the early hours of Sunday,
26th February 2017, which cannot be allowed to set a precedent for
political behavior in future.
“Our observations were that in the areas we were able to observe when
(polls were not interfered with they were generally well conducted,
noting that turnouts of 10% reflect the many ongoing security and
political problems in Rivers state.

“We acknowledge the effort of INEC staff in the Etche LGA poll given
that the poll justified concerns for their safety and wellbeing with
reports of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) withdrawing their
participation. We noted that while circumstances were difficult there
are still lessons for INEC from the Etche LGA poll, particularly
around collation, communications, and security management.

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