Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has rescheduled the Rivers State re-run elections to hold in October.
The Commission’s National Commissioner for Operations, Hajia Amina Zakari Made the declaration yesterday in Port Harcourt while answering questions at a stakeholders meeting.
Hajia Zakari noted that it would not be possible for INEC to conduct ithe elections in September, because of the Edo State governorship election that would come up then.
She further stated that INEC needed time to budget, plan,‎ train and post the personnel for the election.
Regretting the circumstances that led to the suspension of the election, she blamed nobody but examined that INEC this time needed to re-strategise to avoid a repeat of past mistakes.
“The primary responsibility of INEC is to ensure sustenance of democracy via peaceful elections, and we need your co-operation and support to achieve this noble objective,” she said.
Also in his opening remark, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak expressed optimism that at the end of the meeting, all sensitive issues relating to the elections would have been resolved for peaceful elections.
Ikoiwak stated that the import of the meeting made it necessary for such a large turnout of members even at a short notice, commending the politicians for patience and understanding.
Making his contribution, the Rivers State chairman for Inter-Agencies‎ for Peaceful Elections and the Police Commissioner, Francis Odesanya, promised that the police would be professionally focused.
“The police will not be partisan. We will provide every candidate a level playing ground. We also assure you safety and peaceful election,” he pledged.
Leading the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate for Rivers East senatorial district, Senator George Thomson Sekibo urged the commission to always carry them along and not demonstrate preferences for a particular party.
Sekibo blasted the INEC for postponing the March 19 election because of the insecurity and attack on its office in Tai Local Government Area, when there was no violence or security threats in his constituency.
“There is no insecurity in Rivers State; ‎all the publications celebrating insecurity here are more sponsored write-ups. We have hosted several national and international conferences and conventions; there is peace in the state.
“Nobody should hold us responsible for the kidnappings in the state. It is now a national issue and rears its ugly head everywhere in the nation,” he said.
He further advised the commission use only those who took oath of secrecy and neutrality to work for them this time, and to provide voting materials and electoral staff to designated places in time.
The senator also advised the INEC to invite the nation’s past leaders who had made names‎ internationally, like General Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, among others to observe the Rivers elections.
PDP senatorial candidate for Rivers Southeast, Olaka Wogu also tasked INEC on neutrality as electoral umpire.
Referring to the case of Tai LGA, he noted that the election there was cancelled because the electoral officer and other officers were abducted, only for the result of the constituency to be smuggled in and announced later.
Others who spoke were the former Deputy Governor Engr Tele Ikuru, Senator Magnus Abe, a House of Assembly candidate for Aluku/Toro, Pastor Douglas Emmanuel, among others.

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