* Police deploy 14, 000 personnel to provide security blanket
Residents of Rivers State on Saturday voted for their candidates during the local government election in 23 local government councils for chairmen, vice-chairmen, councillors held in 4, 442 polling units and 319 wards in the state.
The election was peaceful while voting in some areas started behind schedule.
A heavy morning rain in the early hours of the day in some local government areas affected the distribution of sensitive electoral materials as earlier scheduled by the state electoral commission.
Although, the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission, RSIEC, announced that voting will start at 8am and terminate at about 2pm, electoral materials were still being distributed in most of the local government areas as at 10am.
At the Model Primary School, at Mile 1, Diobu, by Emeneki Bus-Stop, in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, electoral officials, voters and agents of contesting candidates were still waiting for electoral materials to arrive for the exercise to commence.
Some of the electoral officials were wondering why the materials were yet to arrive. Some of them claimed that they were yet to identify the wards that they have been assigned to conduct the election.
In Rukpokwu, Rumuokoro, Rumueme, Eneka, Rumuola in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, electoral materials were yet to arrive at 10 am. Voting commenced at Ward 9, Unit 7, Governor Nyesom Wike’s ward at 11. 05. am.
Also voting commenced at Ogo-Bolu Local Government Area at about 10.15 am, at Ward 2 Unit 6. Voting was yet to commence at 10. am, at Oyigbo Local Government Area. Voting commenced at Ward 1, in Oyigbo Local Government Area, at 11.30 am.
Electoral materials were yet to be distributed at the Central Police Station at Omoku, in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area.
At Ugbogu and Alikwo in Egi Clan, electorates were reported to be going back home, claiming that they had been informed that the local government election had been postponed.
Voting was yet to commence as at 12.08 pm, at Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, ONELGA. The State Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic, PDP, Chief Felix Obuah, is from Omoku, in ONELGA.
Governor Wike had identified Onelga in his state-wide broadcast on Thursday, June 14, as one of the nine local government areas where security information available to him indicated that some people were planning to perpetuate mayhem to scuttle the electoral exercise.
Electoral materials were being distributed at Bonny Local Government Area at about 10.15 am. Voting commenced at most polling units at about 11. 45 AM.
Voting materials were distributed at about 10.20 am, in Bori in Khana Local Government Area. Some voters who had gone home due to the late arrival of electoral materials were seen returning to the polling units after they were informed that the electoral materials had arrived.
Director of Public Affairs of RSIEC, Mrs. Sarah Nene-Agbawe, told journalists, at 9.05 am, at the RSIEC headquarters, along Aba Road, opposite Bori Camp, 6th Brigade, that sensitive materials for four local government areas were still at the headquarters following advice by security agencies to tarry for some time to enable them attend to some security issues.
She, however, did not elaborate on the nature of the security concern. She stressed that the security agencies did not specify what the problem was. “The security agencies advised that the commission should not distribute sensitive materials to those local governments for security reasons.”
Voting materials arrived at Ward 4, Health Centre, Ahoada-East, at 11.15 am, and voting commenced at 11. 20 am. Electoral materials arrived Amadiama State Secondary School, at Asari-Toru Local Government Area, at 11.20 am.
As at 11.30 am electoral materials were yet to arrive in any of the six wards in Bakana in Degema Local Government Area. Sources said voting materials were expected to arrive by boats. Voting commenced at 11.55 am, at Bakana.
Voting started at Ward 10, Unit 4, at Asari-Toru Local Government at 11.45 AM. Asari-Toru is one of the nine local government areas that Governor Wike mentioned that some unknown persons were planning to foment trouble during the election.
The State Chairman of faction of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ojukaiye Flag-Amachree, loyal to the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, is from Asari-Toru Local Government Area. He spoke on a live phone-in programme from Abuja at about 9.30 am, on the day of the election.
He reiterated that the APC “was not participating in the local government election because it was illegal. The matter was in court. The APC was insisting that the PDP government erred in law by sacking the existing APC council executives upon assuming office in 2015 because they were legally elected.”
Voting started at Khana Local Government Area at about 11.30 am. There was a high level of voters presence at wards 11 to 18 in Khana Local Government Area. There was also heavy presence of security operatives in all major roads leading to the local government.
Some people were seen displaying their wares in markets tucked away from major roads and streets in some local government areas. Some youths who were seen playing football retorted when asked why they were not participating in the electoral exercise: “nothing concern us.”
Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Zaki Ahmed, had assured journalists, at the Rivers State Police Command, on Thursday, June 14, that the command would deploy 14, 000 policemen and women to ensure peace and social order during the exercise.
Chairman of RSIEC, retired Justice Chukwuneye Uriri, had also in a broadcast, on Thursday, June 14, stated that there would be restriction of movement from 8am to 4pm. He, however, clarified that the local government election would hold from 8am to 2pm.