No fewer than eight persons, including a policeman were killed yesterday before actual voting started at the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections in Rivers State.
The policeman was killed early on Saturday morning at the Rex-Lawson area of the old Port Harcourt Township even before accreditation commenced.
Though the cause of the cop’s death death was not known, but the State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Ahmad Muhammad who confirmed the killing said there were traces of violence before the policeman died.
Muhammad said, “The policeman killed was one of those deployed to monitor the elections today (Saturday). We see that there was evidence of violence before he was killed. His remains has been moved from to a nearby morgue and we (Police) have commenced investigation into the killing.”
The police image maker however said over 17, 000 policemen were deployed to monitor the poll across the state, with a minimum of two policemen in each polling unit.
It was gathered that one person was beheaded, while two others were shot dead in Asari-Toru local government area of the state, even as hoodlums stormed office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and reportedly threw substances suspected to by dynamite into INEC office, destroying election materials and vehicles.
Though, cause of the killings was not immediately ascertained, but it may not be unconnected with power tussle between the two main political parties in the state.
Also, eyewitnesses said there were heavy shootings on Friday night preceding the election up until about 7.00 am yesterday (Saturday) morning in Buguma, headquarters of Asari-Toru local government area, even as supporters of parties were spotted burning tyres on the main road.
The situation heightened tension in the area, while many residents stayed at home for fear of being hit by stray bullet.
Meanwhile, in Rumuomasi, a reporter with Channels Television, Grace Ekang and his reporter, were attacked and beaten by angry youths, though the details of the attack was not clear.
Also, in Bomu, Gokana local government area, a reporter with Silverbird Rhythm FM, Ofonime Okon was beaten by thugs who asked if he was sent by a particular governorship candidate in the state, even as he scampered for safety, while the vehicle (Toyota) e was travelling in was damaged.
Also, in Okpogo community, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area, a group of youths reportedly snatched ballot boxes, while two unidentified men were shot dead.
In Abua/Odual local government area, there was shooting which resulted in the loss of one live, though the police was yet to confirm, even as policemen and other security personnel were spotted along Omuku town looking for hoodlums who allegedly snatched ballot box.
It was also gathered that the residence of the State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Joyba West was burnt by unknown hoodlums, while she was also attacked.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari confirmed the attack on Mrs. West, saying her colleague was still hiding.
Meanwhile, Governor Chibuike Amaechi and his wife, Judith after being accredited at ward in Ubima, Ikwerre local government area described the election in the state as a charm.
Amaechi while speaking with newsmen said the Governorship and House of Assembly Election was characterized by ballot box snatching, intimidation and harassment.
This is as Amaechi has disown a text messages allegedly traced to him calling on Rivers people not to vote and for the election to be cancelled, even as he said his phone number was cloned.
The governor who spoke through the spokesman of the state government, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari in a statement said her principal had no time called on INEC to cancel the poll.
The statement reads, “The attention of the Rivers State Government has been drawn to SMS message purporting the cancellation of elections in the state by the Independent Electoral Commission.
“The state governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi hereby reaffirms his position that the elections must hold as scheduled and that all eligible voters in the state should go out and exercise their rights to elect the next Governor and members of the State House of Assembly.
“Rivers people are further reassured of the Government commitment to ensuring their safe and security at the elections.”
In Oyigbo local government area, explosion from substances suspected to be dynamite went off near a polling unit, but voters defied the development and later went to be accredited before 1.00 pm.
MY PHONE NUMBERS HAVE BEEN CLONED -AMAECHI
Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has alleged that his phone numbers have been cloned by unknown criminals who have been using the numbers to send out fake messages, urging people not to come out to vote.
Amaechi, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. David Iyofor, urged the electorates to ignore the messages as such did not emanate from the governor.
The statement reads in part, “This is to inform members of the public that the Telephone numbers of the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has been cloned, and the criminals who did the cloning are using his phone numbers to send out fake text messages to people not to come out and vote.
“Please, that text message is not from Governor Amaechi. The Governor’s position remains that Rivers voters should come out to vote today. People should disregard that fake text message.”
BALLOT BOX SNATCHING, RESULT SHEET HIJACKING IN RIVERS
Ballot boxes and result sheets have been snatched in some areas in Eleme, Ahoada-West and Ikwerre local government areas of the stated respectively at the end of voting.
In Ward 1, Eleme, election was concluded and results were being collated, when some unidentified persons hijacked ballot boxes and result sheets
Also in Ahoada-Wesr area of the state, precisely in Ubita, Ward 10, results sheets and Ballot boxes were snatched by hoodlums, while counting of votes was going on in the ward.
In Elele Town, in Ikwerre local government area of the state, armed youths stormed several polling units snatching ballot boxes and election result sheets.
This is as two persons who pose as policemen were arrested by soldiers and taken a nearby police station in Eleme