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Breaking: Widespread violence takes over Rivers by-election, INEC suspends exercise

The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), on Saturday, August 18, announced it had suspended the by-election for the Port Harcourt constituency lll of the state House of Assembly seat held August 18, in the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Obo Effanga, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Rivers, who announced the suspension in a terse statement, cited widespread violence as reasons for the suspension.

The report said the by-election was conducted by INEC to fill the vacancy left by former state assemblyman, Victor Ihunwo, now chairman, Port Harcourt City local government area.

The report further said Effanga stated that because the exercise was marred by widespread violence, it was suspended in accordance with section 26 of the electoral act 2010.

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“INEC has decided to suspend the election forthwith,’’ he said, but did not give a new date for the exercise.

NAN earlier reported suspected hoodlums accused of working for one of the major political parties attacked election officials in an attempt to hijack election materials.

Gbekwele Chidi, a voter and witness, confirmed the incident to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday, August 18.

According to the report, he said that the attack took place at Nkpolu-Oroworokwu community, specifically at Obiri Okah, ward 10, polling units 023 & 024 in Nkpolu-Oroworukwu community.

Chidi explained that trouble started when suspected political thugs who attempted to force their way into the centre, were stopped by some unarmed police personnel at the polling units manned by INEC personnel.

“So, after the police refused them entry into the centre; the thugs resorted to throwing stones and bottles at the police personnel.

“Later, some armed policemen in their vans arrived the scene and started shooting and firing teargas to disperse the rampaging thugs.

“After dispersing the hoodlums, the police then took the election materials, INEC officials and NYSC members to their station,” Chidi said.

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Chichi Agbamoro, a principal administration officer of INEC, Abuja office, also confirmed the incident.

"When they arrived, they started shooting and thereafter snatched the election materials to unknown destination,” she said.

NAIJ.com earlier stated that residents in Port Harcout, the Rivers state capital, reported heavy shooting in their area as the Port Harcourt Constituency III by-election for a seat in the state House of Assembly is taking place on Saturday, August 18.

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Source: Naija.ng

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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