The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, is leading in Rivers State after results from nine local government areas were officially announced on Sunday night in Port Harcourt.
Mr Abubakar won in eight of the nine LGAs, losing only one, which was taken by Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress
Mr Abubakar won Oyigbo (APC – 3520; PDP – 16,102), Omuma (APC – 2494; PDP – 15322), ONELGA (APC – 10996; PDP – 28536), and Eleme (APC – 2412; PDP – 8464). He also won Gokana (APC – 9328; PDP – 10276) and Etche (APC – 7163; PDP – 11135).
The other two won by Mr Abubakar were Governor Nyesom Wike’s Obio Akpor (APC – 6875; PDP – 69981) and his party chairman Uche Secondus’ Andoni (APC – 10766; PDP – 72330).
In the ninth LGA, Asari Toru, Mr Buhari won with 8180 votes ahead of Mr Abubakar’s 3175 votes.
All the nine results were approved by the State Collation Officer for Presidential Election, SCOPE, at the collation centre in the Port Harcourt office of INEC on Sunday night. The exercise stopped after results of the nine LGAs were taken minutes before midnight. INEC said collation would resume at 10 a.m. on Monday.
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There are 23 local government areas in Rivers State. Voting did not take place in two, Bonny and Akuku Toru LGAs, due to violence, INEC declared on Saturday, announcing it would fix a new date for polls in the two areas.
Disagreements as effects of violence
The collation exercise took place as agents of the PDP and APC contested the results with high passions, while Electoral Officers and Collation Officers for each of the LGAs lamented widespread violence and irregularities.
The agents of the PDP – former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Austin Okpara and former Deputy Governor Tele Ikuru – asked the SCOPE not to accept the results from Asari Toru, the only LGA won by Mr Buhari.
They said they had brought a petition challenging the results. But their objection was brushed aside and the results were approved by the SCOPE. He explained that at the state collation level after the results had been cleared at the local level, he could not stop collation.
APC’s Samson Ngerebara, a former commissioner for works in the state challenged results from the LGAs won by the PDP.
In Andoni LGA where PDP gained over 70,000 votes, the LG collation officer said the results did not include ward 6, where he said there was no voting because of violence.
But Mr Ngerebara asked that results from Andoni Ward 9 should also be removed. In Ward 9 an APC leader, Mowan Etete and two of his family members were killed by suspected hoodlums on Saturday. Another person, an APC state officer, Ignatius Bara, was killed in separate violence in the area.
Mr Ngerebara, also from Andoni, gave a graphic description of how the four were killed and concluded election could not have held where such horrific violence took place.
“It was pathetic Etete was killed,” replied Mr Ikuru, also from Andoni. “But it had nothing to do with the election. There is a problem in the community and it was a reprisal.”
“This is the man causing trouble in Andoni, the man asking soldiers to be shooting everybody – you will see,” further said Mr Ikuru, pointing at Mr Ngerebara.
In Gokana, the LG collation officer said voting did not take place in Wards 3, 15 and 16 due to violence.
“It is good to serve our fatherland, but it is regrettable that our service could truncate our existence in this world,” said the LG collation officer, lamenting the incidents of violence that marred polls in Gokana.
Mr Ngerebaba said he brought results from polling units across Ward 15 where officials said voting did not take place.
But the EO pushed back, querying how he obtained results from an area where voting did hold.
“The results are duly signed by the POs and that is final,” said Mr Ngerebara, arguing that with the endorsement of the results he held by the presiding officers they should be included.
In Obio Akpor, the LG collation officer said the results brought did not include three wards because of violence and hijack of materials there.