Obiajunwo Paul, Port Harcourt
There was drama, yesterday, in Rivers state as 18 supporters of political parties for the forthcoming election engaged in physical combat while protesting against alleged biased involvement of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the 2015 election.
The protesters include supporters of All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and 16 other political parties in the state.
They barricaded INEC office at Port Harcourt-Aba express way, accusing the electoral umpire in the state of bias in their adhoc staff members posted to Local government areas in the state.
But the protest which was also to draw the attention of INEC against some of their members who were allegedly accused of partying with politicians in the state ended in a fight between the parties involved.
One of the group, Concerned Political Parties a conglomeration of 17 political parties led by one Emeka Amadi said they came to the INEC office to register their complain but were surprise that some PDP supporters who are mot their members invaded the scene.
In a joint protest statement issued yesterday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, by the political parties, the group accused INEC of been bias. They alleged that, the Supervisory Officers (SPOs) for the election in all the LGAs were constituted to favour the PDP and APC.
The group said they will continue to protest until INEC review and re-examine their adhoc staff members posted to Local government areas in the state.
“We are suspecting that those posted to Local government are close allies of some politicians in the state. We the supporters of political parties in the state will not support any idea that will truncate democratic progress.
“All we want is free, fair and credible elections, though as supporters of political parties we still have confidence on INEC but we want NEC to review and re-examine their adhoc staff members.
Mr. Bright Amehule, the leader of the PDP group who also accused INEC of been bias alleged that two close relatives of Rivers State Chief of Staff, Tony Okocha work with INEC.
He alleged further that the test-run of the card reader machine was influenced by some political parties chieftains in the state.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dame Gecila Khan dismissed all the allegations made by the two groups and promised to communicate with the national body. “If the two parties are protesting against us, it then means INEC is purely neutral.”