How Soldiers Hijacked Election in Rivers

The governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State was generally peaceful but was marked by very low turnout of voters and hijack of materials by men in military uniform.
Reports from across the state talked about the overwhelming show of force by the military, who clamped down on leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state. 
A former Caretaker Committee Chairman of Asari Toru Local Government Area and chieftain of the PDP, Tubonimi Dick, was arrested on Election Day by the military, so also was a Special Adviser to Governor Wike on Technical Education, Prof. Israel Owate.
In the days leading to Election Day, the military raided the homes and bases of some ex-militant chiefs like Ateke Tom in Okochiri, Okrika, Asari Dokubo in Buguma and the Commissioner for Education, Tamuno Gogo-Jaja. 
Emillia Nte, a former Chairman of Andoni Local Government was shot and taken away in her car as she returned home for the election. Ofili Enebeli was reportedly arrested by soldiers at his home in Ndoni, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area.
On Election Day, reports were rife that men of the Nigerian Army hijacked the process in many areas, where they were reported to have aided the diversion and hijacking of election materials. But there were no reports of confrontations.
In Abonnema, headquarters of Akuku Toru Local Government Area, where the Presidential and National Assembly elections could not hold because of the deadly clash between military personnel and some local militia, the governorship election took place. But it was not so for the communities at the tip of the Atlantic Ocean like Kula, where materials could not be delivered to polling units before the close on voting on Saturday. 
Dumo Lulu-Briggs of Accord Party, who earlier voted in Abonnema, called later on to report the hijack of materials meant for Ward 12 in the Local Government Area.
In Okrika, the home local government of ex-militant chief, Ateke Tom, materials for Ward 9, Okujagu were reportedly seized by military personnel in a gunboat stationed between Kalio and Abuloma. It was a similar story for Ward 5 and Ward 6, Isaka where voters waited in vain for material to arrive. Later on the voting materials with stuffed ballot boxes meant for the wards were reportedly taken to the INEC local government collation centre in Okrika.
In Eleme, soldiers intervened in Ward 10, Aleto at about 12: 25pm when voting was still going on and ferried both the election officials and election materials in defiant of protesting voters away to the local government collation centre long before voting was due to close.
Turnout in Port Harcourt was generally very low. It was a similar story in Ahoada East where the market was open, church services were going on in and kids were playing on the roads.
Though the Commissioner of Police, Usman Belel, said the police were the anchor of the security infrastructure for the election, the army actually took over operations in many areas. According to him, 15,500 policemen were deployed for the elections, and just about 3,000 personnel from sister security agencies were to help to provide security for the voting.
Chairman of the Rivers State Police Community Relations Committee, Casca Ogosu, said he was in shock that the military authorities refused to respond to complaints of the excesses of the soldiers sent to provide support to the police for the elections. 
Ogosu said the police were helpless because they could not restrain the soldiers.   
The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who voted at his Rumuepirikom hometown, accused the military of hijacking the process. He said the military brushed aside the police and took charge of security proceedings.
The Chairman of Okrika Local Government, Philemon Kingoli, described what happened in Rivers State on Saturday as a coup by the military. He said the military completely took over affairs in Okrika in collaboration with members of a particular political party in the state.

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