Soldiers, policemen clash over control at gate Rivers INEC


 By Gladys Nweke

Soldiers and policemen Sunday afternoon engaged in a heated argument at the head office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State.

The argument was said to have broken out over who should be in charge of security at the office which is the state collation center where result of the governorship election will be announced.

The soldiers had allegedly ordered some policemen to leave the premises, and after a while the policemen reinforced, forcing their way in.

Earlier, armed soldiers manned the gate and a colonel who appeared to be their commander ordered the policemen to move away. A policeman had returned to the gate but was refused entrance. He called on others, and while the argument started, the policemen forced the gate open, pushing the soldiers away.

He told newsmen: “We are equally here on duty, one of the policemen who did not want to be named told journalists what transpired. How will the army come and ask us not to do the job we’ve been deployed to do?”

Nnamdi Omoni, the police public relations officers in the state, did not answer calls placed to his phone over the issue.

Some INEC officials left the premises as a result of the clash between the security agencies. Since the army wants to take over, let them go and collate the results, an angry official said.

Out of 23 local government areas in the state, only the results of six had been brought in as of the time this report was filed before the cancellation took place.

The elections sparked tension among Rivers residents. Last week, soldiers raided clubs in Port Harcourt, arresting fun seekers.

Meanwhile, security agents barred journalists from entering INEC office in Port Harcourt as the state awaits results. There was security mobilisation around the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC headquarters in Port Harcourt.

Soldiers and Policemen there stopped accredited journalists for governorship and state house assembly elections in the state collation side. Journalists that arrived INEC office since morning of Sunday were stranded outside the gate.

Even Civil Society groups and observers condemned the involvement of the military in the election.