- There is fear of violence in Rivers state ahead of the rerun of legislative elections in the state
- The Rivers state commissioner of police, Francis Odesanya, has warned against ballot box snatching and rigging
- Representatives of the European Union, US, UK and France have called on political leaders and their supporters to remain peaceful
As the people of Rivers state march to the polls today, December 10, for the rerun of legislative elections, there is heightened tension.
The fear of violence prompted the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the newly created 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt, Maj-Gen. Kasimu Abdulkarim, and the Rivers state commissioner of police, Francis Odesanya, to issue stern warnings against ballot box snatching, rigging and unlawful movements during the election.
The Nation reports that soldiers and policemen were deployed in flashpoints and other strategic parts of the state.
Addressing officers and soldiers at the 6 Division’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, Abdulkarimu said the deployment of soldiers to flash points was to prevent the breakdown of law and order before, during and after the polls.
He said: “Troops will be in their respective positions by 3 am on election day. Commanders are to ensure that troops are deployed in the outer perimeter of designated collation centres and polling booths in support of the Nigerian Police without getting directly involved with INEC’s activities.
“Commanders are to direct the conduct of patrols, establish checkpoints and roadblocks and provide escort during the elections in order to prevent unlawful movements, ballot box snatching and sundry crimes.
“Commanders must ensure that troops are deployed rapidly to contain any breach of peace and ensure protection of lives and property while taking into consideration the principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality and humanity.”
Meanwhile, representatives of the European Union, US, UK and France issued a joint statement yesterday expressing fears that the elections could turn violent.
The heads of the mission, Paul T. Arkwright, British High Commissioner to Nigeria; W. Stuart Symington, the United States ambassador to Nigeria; Denys Guaer, the French ambassador of Nigeria and Michel Arrion, the EU head of delegation to Nigeria in a joint statement urged political leaders and their supporters to remain peaceful.
The statement reads: “We note with concern the rising tension in Rivers State ahead of elections on 10 December.
“We call on the leadership of all political parties and their supporters in Rivers state to allow elections to go ahead peacefully.
“We encourage INEC and the security forces to perform their duties responsibly and impartially. We urge all parties to respect the electoral process and raise any grievances peacefully and through official channels."
Also the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), through its President, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, and the Doing Democracy Movement (DDM), through its Convener, Anyakwee Nsirimovu, have called on the people to allow a peaceful election.
While addressing a crowd at APC rally, John Odigie-Oyegun told party supporters to retaliate any PDP action. “Oyegun told party supporters to retaliate any PDP action. “If they slap you, slap them back. As you can see, we came in full force, the whole federal might is here,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari has issued a stern warning to all stakeholders in Rivers state on the rerun election. He said it is not a do or die affair.