March 16, 2023

Accord wants INEC to suspend Rivers elections over candidate’s kidnap

By Davies Iheamnachor

Accord Party in Rivers State has written the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to suspend the conduct of the Saturday’s State Assembly Election in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 2, over the kidnap of its candidate, Engr. Chukwudi Ogbonna.

Unidentified gunmen, Tuesday night, kidnapped the Accord Party’s state assembly candidate for ONELGA Constituency II, at Rumuigbo area of Port Harcourt.

However, two days to the house of assembly election, Ogbonna has remained in the kidnappers’ den, causing panic among family and party members.

Speaking during a peaceful demonstration at Mgbede in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA, the Chairman of Accord Party, Comrade Nwachukwu Justice, said the protest was necessitated by the abduction of the party’s candidate for ONELGA Constituency 2.

Justice said the party has officially written INEC informing it of the development and requesting that the state assembly election for the Constituency be suspended should Ogbonna not be released before the election.

He said: “Election is just two days away and our candidate is still in the den of his abductors. As a party we are calling on the abductors to please release him to us.

“We are calling on security agents to scale up efforts to ensure his safe release before the day of the election.

“We have written INEC that in the event where our candidate is not released until the day of the election that the election for ONELGA Constituency 2 should be suspended.”

A member of the victim’s family, Ifeakachukwu Nwakiri, urged the INEC to evoke Section 24 (1&2) of the Electoral Act on the development and suspend the polls, adding that the kidnap is an emergency situation and could cause breach of peace.

He said: “The position of the family is same with that of the party that Chukwudi Ogbonna should be released. INEC should postpone the election pending when Ogbonna is freed. 

“INEC has the power to suspend the election in this place. Section 24 (1&2) of the Electoral Act, 2022, gave INEC the absolute power to postpone election in an event of emergency of breach of peace.

“As you can see there is an emergency and breach of peace in ONELGA Constituency 2. We are calling on them to suspend the election pending when Engr Ogbanna is released.

Similarly, Amb. Kelly Rufus, leader of Egbema Massive Movement and the Strategic Media Director and Head of Contact and Mobilisation for the abducted candidate, described the continuous hostage of Ogbanna as saddening.

He said the kidnap is purely political, noting that the development could lead to breakdown of order if not properly handled.

“It is pathetic that Chukwudi Ogbonna will be abducted by unidentified individuals four days to the election which he is a candidate. It is politically motivated. It this is not managed properly it can lead to chaos in the community,” Rufus.