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Rivers: INEC shifts State Assembly, NASS re-run polls to March 19

By The Citizen
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shifted the State and National Assembly rerun elections in Rivers State to March 19, 2016.

INEC had initially fixed both rerun elections tentatively for February 6, 2016 through the outgoing Resident Electoral Commissioner of the state, Dame Gesila Khan.

But the state INEC Public Relations Officer, Antonia Nwobo, said signals about the change in the date for the exercise came after a stakeholders' meeting at the commission's headquarters in Abuja.

Though no reason was given for the postponement of the rerun elections, INEC's decision may not be unconnected with the position of most political parties that the time given to them to prepare for the exercise was too short.

Nwobo said through a text message sent to our correspondent on Tuesday, 'Please, be informed that the Independent National Electoral Commission headquarters at a meeting with stakeholders on February 1, 2016, has approved that rerun elections in Rivers State will be held on March 19, 2016.'

INEC in the state had earlier told political parties that election would be held for 22 House of Assembly seats, 12 House of Representatives seats and three senatorial seats.

Putting the number of voters that would vote during the rerun elections at 2, 148,289, the state INEC added that only voters, who registered during last year's elections would be eligible to vote.

The Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council of Nigeria, Chief Felix Obuah, had earlier faulted the February 6, 2016 date initially fixed by INEC for the rerun elections.

Obuah, who is also the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, explained that the time given to political parties for preparation was too short to hold any serious campaign.

He said, 'This is a proof of some allegations that there was a grand conspiracy between INEC and the APC. It had never been done before that only one week notice will be given for election.

'We have not started our campaign and INEC is only informing us that election is coming up in less than one week. We are calling on INEC to revisit the date for the election. Political parties have not even inspected materials for the election.'

Earlier, the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had warned that those planning to rig during the exercise would be treated as armed robbers by the people.

This was just as the governor declared every January 27 a public holiday in the state to mark the Supreme Court's judgement that upheld his election.