Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, committed themselves to peace in the oil rich state on Tuesday, same day rerun elections in the state were postponed for fear of violence.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, in statement by its secretary, Augusta Ogakwu, announced the suspension of the National Assembly and State Assembly rerun elections earlier slated for July 30, after risk assessments and consultations with security agencies and relevant bodies.
“The reports of these assessments have been almost unanimous in concluding that the prevailing security situation in most parts of the state where elections are to hold are not conducive for peaceful elections,” INEC said.
“In the Commission’s view, the rhetorics of some of the political actors, the incidence of violence in a number of local government areas where these elections are scheduled and the atmosphere of fear and intimidation created present danger in proceeding with elections as earlier scheduled.”
Earlier, INEC conducted the rerun legislative electors on March 19, but “regrettably, the elections in all three Senatorial districts and several other of these constituencies could not be concluded due to violent disruption of the process which necessitated the suspension of the exercise in all the senatorial districts and affected constituencies”.
INEC urged continuous efforts by “respected” individuals, organisations and leaders to douse tension and ensure conducive atmosphere, adding it has responsibility to ensure safety of electorate, electoral personnel and observers.
The commission did not issue a fresh date for the polls, but assured “that it is ready to conclude elections in Rivers State within shortest time possible once security situation is conducive for the conduct of peaceful polls”.
But the main actors in Rivers politics, Messrs Wike and Amaechi, were made to agree to a peace deal to end political violence in the state.
The deal was brokered by the acting Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and the Director-General of the State Security Service, Lawal Daura, police spokesperson, Donald Awunah, said in a statement Tuesday evening.
“In a concerted effort to guarantee a violent-free and credible re-run senatorial/house of representative elections in Rivers state, a crucial meeting to chart the path to peace in Rivers state before, during and after the re-run elections in the state was held today, July 26, 2016 between the inspector-general of police, Ag IGP Ibrahim K. Idris and the director-general of Department of State Services, Musa Daura,” Mr. Awunah said.
“The two major players in the politic of Rivers state, His Excellency Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers state and the Hon minister of transport, Rotimi Amaechi, were in attendance.
“The meeting deliberated on the overall need to have peaceful, free and fair election devoid of violence, which was the hallmark of the previous elections in the state.
“The governor, His Excellency Nyesom Wike and minister, Rotimi Amaechi resolved to be irrevocably commit to lasting peace and vouched to play the game by the rules in the forthcoming re-run elections in the state. They also agreed to prevail on their teaming supporters to adhere to their commitment to peace and security in the state.
“In addition, the two major stakeholders agreed to convene another meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, aimed at further solidifying the commitment to peace reached in the meeting, which is a prelude to the roadmap that will usher a permanent and lasting peace in Rivers state.
“The meeting was held in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cordiality.”