Many had predicted that the rerun parliamentary election in Rivers State on Saturday would be bloody, and it is. At least seven people have been killed in polls taking place in all the 23 local government areas of the state.
The war songs and threats by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates had gone on for weeks in the oil rich but mostly impoverished state. Soldiers were killed on Thursday night during a gun battle with the militants in the area. Reports said the militants were sponsored by political parties to kill.
Rivers is a strategic state for the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. It fell into the hands of the PDP last April and attempts to win it back through the courts failed after the Supreme Court said the PDP was the rightful winner of the last elections.
Back then, there was also violence, which led to the cancellations of many legislative results by election petition tribunals. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) organised the rerun elections some months ago, which were also marred by violence. They were postponed and rescheduled for today. But today’s elections have also been marred by violence.
The latest killings on Saturday, and a sea of irregularities that took place, prompted the electoral body to suspend elections in Gokhana, Khana, Andoni and Bonny. The situation remained unclear in other parts of the state.
Local newspaper, The Nation said seven had been killed and at least eight others had been arrested. It said although the identities of the victims had not been established, one of the dead victims was an immigration officer serving in the state.
The deceased was reportedly killed at Abalama in Asari Toru local government area of the state when unknown gunmen opened fire on the people.
“At Eleme local government area, four persons were killed, while one was killed in Nonwa, Tai LGA. One person was also shot dead at Ogboloko community in Abua/Odual LGA of the state. Attempts by our correspondent to get the state police spokesman, Ahmad Mohammad, to comment on the matter were unsuccessful,” The Nation said.
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