[Note, the following statement refers only to the postponement of the Rivers State Elections on 11th March 2019. Please consult INEC or the Civil Society Situation Room for reputable news on progress of the Rivers State Elections re-run.]
Issued: 13th March 2019
Rivers State elections were suspended on Sunday 11th March until further notice and an investigative committee has been directed to report back to INEC within 48 hours. The events over the election period and the suspension have generated significant political tension in Rivers State that could generate further violence. INEC has already cited violence and abduction of officials in its announcement of suspension of the elections.
Local and national civil society organisations are calling for INEC and its staff to be protected from further pressure and intimidation over the Rivers State Governorship and State Assembly elections.
We are also calling for all stakeholders to acknowledge the priority in Rivers State should be the safety of lives and property in the state, and that all necessary steps should be taken to prevent further violence and loss of life.
Our organisations supported election observation activities across Rivers state during the recently concluded elections and concurred that there were repeated abuses that impacted voters, and ad-hoc and permanent staff of INEC.
These abuses included the hijacking of election materials by groups accompanied by persons in military uniform, abduction of election officials, and multiple incidents around collation centres.
We are particularly alarmed by our observer reports of partisan conduct by security services around collation centres, and reports of abduction, assault, and harassment of election officials.
Our observations are:
- The suspension of the elections in Rivers State allows an opportunity to assess what has happened over the election weekend and how to chart a way forward. INEC should be free to conduct a careful and complete assessment without outside pressure or harassment.
- INEC must be allowed to play its mandated role and carefully identify next steps that are safe for voters and electoral officials, and do not contribute to further injury and loss of life that has been associated with every poll held since 2015.
- The Federal Government bodies overseeing security services should take immediate steps to investigate the conduct of various arms during the Presidential and State elections in Rivers State and take specific steps to assure the protection of electoral officials and the fair conduct of polls.
Centre for Democracy & Development Nigeria
CLEEN Foundation ( Centre for Law Enforcement Education Nigeria)
Niger Delta Catholic Bishops Forum (continues)
Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room
Stakeholder Democracy Network
We the People- Centre for Social Studies & Development
For further information please contact:
Agianpe Ashang 08166129426 (Situation Room)
Benson Olugbuo (CLEEN Office 07067899368)
Father Edward Obi 08132795461 (Niger Delta Bishops Forum)
Joseph Ekong 0803794 3797 (SDN)
Shamsudeen Yusuf 07032799268 (CDD)
Ken Henshaw 08034053707 (CSSD)