INEC Staff Leave Collation Centre In Port Harcourt, Allege Siege By Military
Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have deserted the commission’s collation centre in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
This followed the tension at the premises after a clash on Sunday morning between police and army officers over who should be in charge of security at the centre.
The soldiers were said to have stormed the centre and asked the policemen to leave the premises.
The policemen reportedly returned to the centre later with more of their colleagues and insisted on taking charge of security there.
It was gathered that the soldiers thereafter withdrew from the INEC premises but remained within the vicinity, prompting the INEC officials to stop activities, pending the complete withdrawal of the personnel from the area.
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The clash between the policemen and soldiers was said to have caused panic among the INEC officials, party agents, and journalists, as well as election observers who had gathered for the announcement of the results.
Some journalists were also alleged to have been manhandled by the security agents.
Meanwhile, some officials of the commission in the state have claimed that their safety was not guaranteed at the local government collation centres, as many of them had to move to the head office in Port Harcourt as a result.
Narrating what transpired at the collation centre, one of the INEC officials told Channels Television that “throughout the elections, there were so many reports of insecurity, molestation, harassment, assault on our staff and ad hoc staff, and disruption of the electoral process throughout the state.
“By yesterday evening, were unable to get any result and now, the office is under siege by the men in military uniform, who have taken over the INEC office, and they are stopping and screening people and clearing results before they enter the office to the extent that up till now no collation has been done.
“So that is the situation now. We don’t understand where the people are deployed from.
He pleaded with the relevant authorities to prevail on the military personnel to allow INEC officials to enter the collation centre without molestation and harassment.