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Security operatives cordon off INEC’s Rivers State office as APC supporters hold protest

THE headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State has been barricaded by security agencies as supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state are protesting the party’s exclusion from the general election.

The exclusion of the APC to participate in the election in Rivers State was as a result of a court’s nullification of two parallel primary elections held by two factions of the party.

Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers State, and Magnus Abe, a serving senator, are currently at loggerheads over who would produce the party’s governorship candidate.

A recent Supreme Court judgement affirmed INEC’s decision not to accommodate any candidate from the APC as the party did not meet up with the deadline for the submission of names of candidates.

On Thursday morning, hundreds of supporters of the APC took over INEC’s main gate of in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, threatening to disrupt the election if the commission fails to allow their candidates to be part of the exercise.

Soldiers and policemen were drafted to the premises to prevent a total breakdown of law and order, and reports say the security operatives had to throw tear-inducing canisters in an effort to disperse the protesters.

The INEC office was also cordoned off as policemen prevented visitors and INEC staff members from either entering or exiting the premises.

Earlier, before the security operatives intervened, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers State, Obong Effanga, who was prevented from entering into the premises, assured the protesters that he would present their demands to the national body.

“As you know, it’s the commission that takes the decision, not the Residential Electoral Commissioner, so I will pass the message to the commission and whatever action they will take, it would do that,” Effanga said.

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