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The Independent National Electoral Commission has said that the December 10 supplementary election in Rivers State will hold in 1,840 polling units across the 23 local government areas of the state.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak, disclosed this when the executive members of the Rivers State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists paid him a courtesy visit at the INEC office in Port Harcourt.
Ikoiwak explained that majority of the elections would be held in seven local government areas. These are Bonny, Ikwerre, Akuku-Toru, Andoni, Etche, Gokana and Khana Councils.
He denied allegation by the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, that INEC recruited some members of the All Progressives Congress in the state as ad hoc workers.
Ikoiwak pointed out that INEC was not recruiting ad hoc workers for the election, adding that ad hoc workers used during elections by the commission were taken from the National Youth Service Corps and other federal agencies.
He said, “We want to make it clear that we have nothing to do with any political party. We have where we recruit our ad hoc staff. It is very clear, we are not recruiting ad hoc staff, that people will write application and so on.
“We collect them from the NYSC, from federal agencies and to compliment shortfalls, we collect students from the university.
“All the people who are being trained are either NYSC members or students or members of staff of federal agencies, including those from INEC. If we find out that there is any student who has affiliation with a political party, and we have the data clearly, such student will be dropped.
“That is why we challenge those who are saying it to give us the list of those people and prove if they are not students or even if they are students, there are some who have affiliations with political parties. Yes, they are students and they have affiliations with political parties and it is proved, those ones will be dropped.”
Earlier, the state Chairman of NUJ, Mr. Omoni Ayo-Tamuno, had expressed sadness that some journalists carrying out their constitutional responsibility were attacked and injured during the March 19, 2016 rerun election in the state.
“Journalists have only their pen; they don’t wear bullet-proof jackets. The only thing we want is security for our members. During the last rerun election, our members were attacked and a car belonging to one of us was burnt,” Ayo-Tamuno recalled.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on INEC and the police to ensure a free and fair supplementary election in the state.
The state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, who made this call while speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Sunday, maintained that INEC and the police should carry out their responsibilities according to the law before, during and after the exercise on Saturday.
This is as the APC in the state accused Wike and the PDP of planning to manipulate the poll.
The state Chairman of the APC, Dr. Ibiamu Ikanya, claimed that his party had received credible intelligence that the governor and the PDP had made several NYSC uniforms with the APC tags for the ruling party thugs to wear with a view to implicating the opposition party in the state.
Nwanosike, while responding to questions from newsmen, explained that the PDP was prepared for a peaceful election, but would resist any attempt by security agents to arrest any of its party leaders for political motives.
Meanwhile, the state APC chairman said the alleged plot by Wike and the PDP was aimed at justifying the allegations by the governor against the INEC, the Inspector-General of Police, the Rivers State Police Commissioner and other stakeholders before the rerun election.
Ikanya added that the PDP and the governor had been branding Hilux trucks similar to the ones used by security agents at an undisclosed secured location.
Reacting, Nwanosike explained that the allegation from the APC was false, adding that the claim showed that the opposition party in the state was laying a foundation for violence during the election.