The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended the by-election for Port Harcourt Constituency III state assembly seat.
Obo Effanga, the resident electoral commissioner (REC) in Rivers, who announced the suspension in a statement on Saturday, cited widespread violence as the reason for the suspension.
The bye-election was conducted by INEC to fill the vacancy left by former state assemblyman, Victor Ihunwo, now chairman, Port Harcourt City local government area.
Effanga said because the exercise was marred by widespread violence, it was suspended in accordance with section 26 of the electoral act 2010.
“INEC has decided to suspend the election forthwith,’’ he said
He did not give a new date for the by-election.
According to NAN, suspected hoodlums accused of working for one of the major political parties attacked election officials in an attempt to hijack election materials.
Gbekwele Chidi, a voter and witness, said that the attack took place at Nkpolu-Oroworokwu community.
NAN reports that the incident took place specifically at Obiri Okah, ward 10, polling units 023 & 024 in Nkpolu-Oroworukwu.
Chidi said trouble started when suspected political thugs, who attempted to force their way into the centre, were stopped by some unarmed police personnel at the polling units manned by INEC personnel.
“So, after the police refused them entry into the centre; the thugs resorted to throwing stones and bottles at the police personnel,” he said.
He said the hoodlums, thereafter, started firing gunshots into the air apparently to frighten and intimidate voters and the unarmed police personnel.
“Later, some armed policemen in their vans arrived the scene and started shooting and firing teargas to disperse the rampaging thugs,” Chidi said.
“After dispersing the hoodlums, the police then took the election materials, INEC officials and NYSC members to their station.”
Chichi Agbamoro, a principal administration officer of INEC, Abuja office, also confirmed the incident.
He told NAN that thugs attacked INEC officials and voters at ward 10, units 30, 206 and 207 at Nkpolu-Oroworokwu town hall.
Agbamoro said the hoodlums came to the polling units armed with guns, machetes and bottles.
“When they arrived, they started shooting and thereafter snatched the election materials to unknown destination,” she said.