Released on 26/03/19
This is the 13th weekly report from Niger Delta Watch 2019, which has been reporting on the political environment during the months over the election period in four Niger Delta States – Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa Ibom. The week in review covered events in the week following the Governorship Elections, 11-17 March 2019.
In Rivers, there was a protest in Port Harcourt Local Government Area (LGA), following the suspension of the Governorship and Assembly elections, by members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) / African Action Congress (AAC) coalition. The major fall-out of the suspension has been propaganda, accusations and counter accusations from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the APC/AAC Coalition and the 6 division of the Nigerian army. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is proposing to resume collation of results in Rivers State between 2 and 5 April with a space for presumed ‘rerun’ elections on Saturday 13 April. Also this week, in Khana LGA, a man died after being shot by members of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) at Bori collation centre on 10 March, exacerbating pre-existing tensions in the area.
The situation in Bayelsa has been relatively peaceful and calm. Following the irregularities that marred the elections in some parts of the State, the victories of some candidates are being challenged at the election petition tribunal. The results of the State House of Assembly Elections are also being challenged. These elections were declared inconclusive in three state constituencies due to violence and electoral equipment failure. Supplementary elections were held on Saturday 23 March in Southern Ijaw Constituency IV and Ogbia Constituency II. The election in Brass Constituency I was suspended due to a Court ruling on Friday 22 March. The elections on 23 March were mostly peaceful, although there were areas, such as Ward 16 in Southern Ijaw, where there were reports of hijacking of election materials. The two Constituencies were successfully concluded and results collated, with the PDP candidates winning in both. Voter turnout was poor and there was a large presence of security personnel. In Yenagoa LGA, three police officers were killed in an isolated incident on Friday 15 March.
In Delta, there have been numerous incidents of violence, with reports emerging from Ughelli South, Ukwuani and Uvwie LGAs. In Ughelli South, there were multiple battles between APC and PDP members; in Ukwuani, there was conflict over money; and in Uvwie, the violence was cult-related. Fatalities were reported in Ughelli South and Uvwie.
The week following the Gubernatorial and State House of Assembly Elections in Akwa Ibom witnessed the announcement of results followed by accusations and counter-accusations by the two leading parties (APC and PDP). The Governorship Election result was announced, with the PDP candidate Udom Emmanuel emerging victorious. While members of the PDP are basking in the euphoria of their victory, those of the APC have decided to challenge the outcome of the elections at the tribunal. The week has also witnessed the redeeming of cash pledges by politicians who had made vote buying commitments earlier during the elections.
This week on social media, there has been much discussion surrounding the integrity of the elections. Rumours have been circulating about INEC rigging the elections, leading to further speculation about fraud, money giving and general misconduct from multiple online sources. Many people are unhappy about the way in which the elections were conducted, and have taken to social media to voice their opinions.
Read the full report.