The Nigerian Army has reportedly stepped up its suppression in Rivers state as it barred accredited agents of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from accessing collation centres in the state following the governorship and state assembly polls. In collation centres in different local government areas, including Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru, Eleme, Opobo-Nkoro and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, PDP agents were reportedly denied access despite having valid INEC accreditation.
According to a report by Thisday newspaper, there are fears in some local government areas that the situation may lead to violence. A Thisday source said: “Unfortunately the army has taken over the LGA collation centre and are refusing any collation! The situation here is very explosive! I fear what may happen in the next hour or two. The people are determined to resist! Tempers on all sides are seriously frayed! I fear the loss of lives!”
PDP cries out: Jerry Needam, the media aide to the state PDP chairman, said soldiers forcefully invaded the Khana Local Government Council lodge and held all those inside hostage. Also, spokesman of the PDP Campaign Organisation and state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, accused the soldiers of attempting to disrupt the electoral process and single out the party’s agents for victimisation and why INEC-accredited agents would be barred from collation centre. “Obviously they are up to something but God will not allow them succeed,” he said.
Army’s response: The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, said the authorities would investigate alleged infractions of soldiers in the elections. He however refused to comment on allegations of soldiers barring PDP agents from collation centres.