Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections in Rivers State was interrupted by reported cases of gun battles and physical attack by armed militia groups on residents, said to be loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC) leaving scores dead and many others injured.
In Gombe, gunmen killed at least 15 people including a member of Gombe State House of Assembly, Alhaji Umar Aminu (APC), near polling stations in Gombe on Saturday, casting an ominous shadow over the closest electoral contest since the end of military rule in 1999.
The Rivers fracas was said to have been orchestrated by armed militias alleged to be working for one of the major political parties purpotedly set out to harrass members of APC members.
Chairman of Rivers APC, Davies Ikanya in a statement in Port Harcourt, said , five people were shot dead by suspecdted PDP’s armed militia in Kpite Town, Tai Ward 2 and other areas of the State, shortly before accreditation commenced.
Lamenting his party’s ordeal, Ikanya said: “It is sad that PDP and its collaborators are targeting APC strongholds and chieftains for attacks and killings. To intimidate our people and contrary to the court ruling forbidding the use of the Army in this election, there has been a massive deployment of soldiers in the state with clear instruction to shoot at sight any APC agent that refuses to comply with the evil plot of PDP to write the results of the election at some designated areas of the state in favour of PDP.”
The APC leader also further alleged that Chidiebere Okwuwolu, a former Commissioner and currently a leader in the party, was arrested by police and taken to Olu Obasanjo Police Station in Port Harcourt along with 99 other arrested APC members scattered in various Police Stations in the State.
Ikanya also alleged that some sensitive election material were being diverted to the residence of persons loyal to the PDP, a trend he lamented could compromise the outcome of the elections in the state.
“At Opobo/Nkoro, the Local Government Area of Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, the gubernatorial candidate of APC, the house of Opobo/Nkoro Caretaker Committee Chairman, Loveday Jaja, was torched after he escaped to avoid being killed by the PDP hoodlums.
“Electoral materials meant for the Local Government Area have been diverted to John Africa/Ada Tom Pepple Compound area where they are thumb-printing in favour of PDP. One Barrister J.B Pepple was caught with stained thumbs and he admitted to thumb-printing. Another person Alafagha Oko-Jaja had his head broken and he is seriously bleeding. No one is sure if he will survive.
Similarly, Governor of the state, Rotimi Amaechi in an exclusive interview with SaharaTV, said the elections “were irreparably compromised, and the results must be cancelled”.
He alleges that interference on the part of the PDP has adversely influenced the result of the contest, claiming the PDP is working with officials and security agents to rig the contest by withholding result sheets, Amaechi says the results of the election today in Rivers cannot be trusted.
“The police are arresting everyone that is arrestable, the police carrying ballot boxes, they are also aiding PDP supporters,” Amaechi said.
He added all the election equipment and materials, especially result sheets, are in PDP agent hands. “I couldn’t vote. In the country, we’re doing very well. In Rivers State, we discovered that all the SPOs (supervising presiding officers) have stolen all the result sheets and disappeared. So we said that there will be no election until we see the result sheets.”
In the North East, insurgents who attacked Dukku and Nafada local government areas of the state were said to have killed the lawmaker representing Dukku South Constituency.
It was learnt that the insurgents, who came from Yobe, initially attacked Shole, Birin Bolewa and Birin Fulani towns of Nafada and later attacked Dukku.
The poll is seen as the first election in which an opposition candidate has a serious chance of unseating the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, but widespread fears it could trigger violence are already becoming reality.