Outbreak of violence has left at least six persons dead and low turnout marred the Governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State.
Governor Chibuike Amaechi who was almost attacked by irate youths when he stopped over at Omagwu, in Ikwerre Local Government Area, to probe allegation that electoral materials meant for the area had been diverted, described the election as sham.
Armed political thugs invaded a collation centre in Buguma in Asari Local Government Area, Rivers State, killing at least five persons and burnt some houses.
An eye witness who is a political party agent in Buguma told The Guardian that some unidentifiable gunmen stormed the Kalabari National College, in the early hours where electoral materials were being distributed and demanded that all sensitive materials should be handed over to them.
She explained the gunmen chased party agents and National Youths Service Corps members into a building and started shooting. And before snatching the materials, the gunmen shot at least five persons, out of which two are said to be security personnel, set the collation centre ablaze and damaged other electoral materials.
Asari Toru council chairman, Ojukaye Flag-Amaechree, explained that at about 1:40pm, no accreditation had taken place in Buguma because people were scared of coming out to participate in the polls.
It was also alleged that the home of the Rivers State Commissioner of Women Affairs, Mrs. Joe-eba West, was torched in Buguma. It was gathered that political thugs threw explosive suspected to be dynamite at her residence and laid siege there for several minutes.
On the eve of the polls, a policeman was shot dead at Rex Lawson Street, in the old Port Harcourt area. The police confirmed the killing and has commended investigation into the killing.
Similarly, armed gunmen shot dead the youth leader of the All Progressives Congress in Ogba/Egbema/ Ndoni Local Government Area, Mr. Felix Orukokwu, at Idu community. Sources told The Guardian that unknown gunmen stormed Idu while accreditation was still going on and opened fire at the youth leader.
The APC governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside, alleged that seven persons were killed in Ogba/Egbema/ Ndoni local government area.
Calls to the police spokesperson, Ahmad Mohammad, to ascertain Peterside’s claims were proved abortive as he didn’t pick or return the call at press time.
Irrespective of about 17,000 policemen deployed to provide security, there were skirmishes at Ozuoba, Bomu, Norwa and several other parts of the state due to wanton snatching of electoral materials.
Following allegation that result sheets had been diverted at Omagwu, Governor Amaechi who was on his way to his hometown, Ubima, had to stop by to ascertain the veracity of the claim. Immediately he alighted from his car, some irate youths suspected to be members of an opposition party, vehemently protested that he should leave the place as he is not legally supposed to be there
And when the youths became some unruly, the governor was barricaded by his security men and shortly afterwards, more policemen and soldiers were deployed to ensure the safety of the governor and prevent a breakdown of law and order.
Shortly after his accreditation at Ubima, Governor Amaechi told journalists that he had received report of killings and snatching of electoral materials. He decried the purported redeployment of the AIG Zone 6, Tunde Ogunsakin from Rivers State and described the election as a sham.
At Eleme, military arrested some fake policemen in Alesa-Eleme and taken away. Shortly after the soldiers left, some youths arrived the area and staring hijacking of ballot boxes and result sheets.
Fracas broke out at State Primary School, Olanada Rumuola, where some persons had attempted to snatch sensitive electoral materials. This was followed by a prolonged altercation which resulted in the destruction of electoral materials and manhandling of a police man.
Similar incident occurred at Rumuomasi where attempt to snatch electoral materials resulted in a free fight by party agents. By the time The Guardian got to the area, broken ballot boxes and voting materials littered the road.
In Bera and several communities in Gokana Local Government Area, there were no electoral officials at press time.
In Emohua, it was alleged that materials were snatched and no accreditation had taken place at press time.