Security agents manning the gates of the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja on Wednesday fired tear-gas canisters the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, and 47 other candidates of the party in the last general elections.
Peterside and other APC candidates in the state elections had gone to the head office of INEC to protest an alleged refusal of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers State, Mrs. Gesila Khan, to release electoral materials for inspection by the APC, in accordance with the ruling of the Rivers State Election Petitions Tribunal.
The APC candidate is contesting before the tribunal the victory of Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party in the April 11 election in Rivers.
The tribunal had ordered that the petitioners be allowed access to the election materials to enable them to show proof that the polls in the state were rigged.
The candidates, who arrived at the INEC HQ at about 11:15am, lamented that they had individually submitted petitions against Khan’s refusal to make the needed documents available.
Peterside, who led the other candidates during the peaceful protest, wondered why the REC had refused to comply with the order of the tribunal, complaining that the REC had claimed that she was working under instruction from the INEC headquarters.
A petition by the candidates, which was eventually submitted at INEC, read, “It is highly worrisome that the Independent National Electoral Commission, which ought to assume the position of an unbiased umpire, has now thrown caution to the wind and is now hobnobbing with the other respondents in the aforementioned petitions to frustrate the speedy and efficient determination of the petitions.
“The foregoing collaboration and partnership between the commission and other respondents to the petition is confirmed by the commission’s refusal to allow our expert inspect electoral materials, refusal to produce properly Certified True Copies and the series of objections filed by counsel for the commission, challenging the tribunal’s order for inspection of electoral materials.”
Rivers APC candidates who participated in the protest at the INEC headquarters included Senator Magnus Abe, Andrew Uchendu, Otelemaba Amachree, Chidi Lloyd and Victor Amadi, among others.
Rivers APC Chairman, Denis Ikanya, also accompanied the protesters to the commission’s headquarters.