Protesting members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, have vowed to remain at the main entrance into the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) until Easter Sunday.
The demand of the protesters, who have occupied a stretch of the ever-busy Aba-Port Harcourt road since Monday, is for a joint inspection of materials for the just-concluded General Election at the INEC office by all political parties.
They had on Monday prevented the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Tonye Cole, from having access to the commission’s facility for a scheduled meeting with some officials.
The protest took a dramatic swist yesterday when the PDP members stormed the INEC headquarters with charms, palm fronds and a native doctor.
A man dressed in white and wearing a traditional cap, made incantations in native Ikwerre language, before the protesters left the charms and palm fronds at the entrance of the commission’s office.
Speaking during the second day of the protest, Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie, said: “We are going to break or Ramadan fast here. We are also going to celebrate our Easter here.”
Meanwhile, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Johnson Alalibo Sinikiem, has advised political parties and their candidates to go to the local government offices of the commission for the inspection of materials used in the just-concluded general elections in the state.
Sinikiem, in a statement made available to newsmen in Port Harcourt yesterday, said the commission has received over 50 applications for certified true copies (CTC) of the election results.
The statement reads in part: “The Commission has observed with equanimity the unfolding events in the past few days concerning the issuance of Certified True Copies of election materials and access for inspection of election materials used during the just concluded 2023 General Elections in Rivers State.
“Although the application of Certified True Copies of documents and access for inspection of election materials are the legitimate entitlement of candidates and parties to Election Petitions, these are however governed by processes and procedures which include payment of requisite fees, making copies/photocopies of relevant documents and certification by the authorised official of the commission.
“The commission has received nearly fifty (50) of these applications since the conclusion of the Presidential, National Assembly, Governorship and State Assembly elections Rivers State and a good number of these applications have been processed in accordance with the date of receipt of such applications and payment of certification fees. This process is still on-going.
“The Commission have also advised all applicants to visit our Local Government offices where these documents are domiciled for inspection while we work out modalities for inspection of other documents domiciled at the State office in accordance with available spaces but they insisted that the huge volumes of documents like ballot papers be brought to the state office.
“They are once again reminded to avail themselves of this opportunity at our Local Government offices to inspect these materials as earlier advised.
“The management of INEC Rivers State therefore wishes to assure all applicants and the general Public that the Commission is committed to discharging its constitutional and lawful duties without preferences or bias, and do request the co-operation and understanding of all Parties and the general public to enable us serve you better.”