By Davies Iheamnachor, Port-Harcourt

The Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered security operatives to arrest anyone or group that attempt to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the local government elections in the state on Saturday.

This was happening as some opposition political parties in the state stormed the office of the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) in protest over alleged non-payment of grants by RSIEC to them ahead of the election.

However, speaking in a statewide broadcast, Wike declared restriction on vehicular and human movements in, within and out of the State from the midnight of Friday 16th April 2021 till 5.00 p.m. on Saturday 17th April 2021 when the State council polls is over, and urged security operatives to enforce same.

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He said: “Consequently, vehicular and human movements in, within and out of the State and the Local Government Areas is hereby totally restricted from the midnight of Friday 16th April 2021 to and until the end of polling at 5.00 p.m. on Saturday 17th April 2021, except for persons and vehicles strictly on essential duties with genuine and valid identifications.”

Wike enjoined voters to conduct themselves peacefully throughout the election and refrain from any act or behaviour that could cause a threat to the peaceful conduct of the election as an election can never be a do or die affair; neither is it worth the blood of anybody.

He said: “Furthermore, the security agencies have clear directives to arrest and deal decisively with any person or group of persons, no matter how highly placed, who attempts to prevent the peaceful and orderly conduct of the election or compromise its integrity in any way.

“We call on community leaders and the general public to be vigilant and promptly report every suspicious movement and or illegal activity around polling units and collation centres in their localities to the security agencies for immediate action.”

Meanwhile, some opposition political parties including Social Democratic Party, SDP, Africa Action Congress, AAC and others in a protest threatened that the election would not hold if RSIEC refused to pay the parties grants due them.

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The protesters with placards bearing, ‘Our Rights must be Given to Us,’ ‘We need Equity and Fairness all Political Parties are Equal,’ ‘Rivers State belongs to all of Us’ and others, barricaded the entrance to RSIEC on Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway.

Speaking, one of the leaders of the protest and Chairman of the African Action Congress, AAC, in the state, Progress Ogbolokuma, said they were at the electoral umpire office to demand their rights.

Ogbolokuma said: “Nothing is going to happen and if they (RSIEC)don’t respond, on Friday is going to be the mother of all protest. This election will not hold until they give us our electoral grant. It is our right.

“The commissioner of police is fully briefed and he is aware and he has given us his word and he has sent his men to give us cover.

“He did that, he gave them the command before he went to Abuja today for the meeting he has with the inspector General of Police. So, the Department of State Services (DSS) is aware. We have spent millions of naira to fund our candidates.”

Ogbolokoma accused RSIEC of working with the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), saying: “The body language of RSIEC is showing that they have compromised with the PDP for them having the effrontery to give grant that is made for 18 political parties which indicated interest to contest this 2021 LG election to the Inter-party advisory chairman.

“It is a sign of compromise and this contravenes the Rivers State electoral commission law, section 12,” the AAC chairman stated.”

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