Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that his administration will support the conduct of free and fair legislative rerun elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the state.
The governor, however, stated that that the people of the state will resist any attempt to rig the forthcoming rerun elections with the aim of subverting the will of the people.
Governor Wike spoke on Friday at the Government House, Port Harcourt when he granted audience to the new Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Rivers State, Elder Ikoiwak Aniedi.
The governor said: “You must have heard me say, which some people have taken out of context. I want to repeat what I said. We will support anybody that comes to conduct free and fair elections. If anybody has at the back of his mind that he is coming to do the bidding of a particular political party or interest group or that he is coming to the state to impose candidates on the state or rig election, the people will resist. Of course, you know what that means.
“You have said it here that it is the duty of the people to elect their representatives. It is not the duty of INEC and it is not the duty of security agents to impose candidates on our State. Your duty is to conduct free and fair elections and we want to believe that INEC will conduct free and fair elections “.
Speaking further, Governor Wike said: “The ruling party at the Federal level has boasted severally how they will use INEC and security agencies to manipulate the rerun elections. Don’t allow any security agency to teleguide you because we have told our people that everybody should be firm, everybody should be ready. We will not take any chances, we will follow materials bumper to bumper. We will make sure we have agents in all areas”.
The governor urged INEC to ensure that the forthcoming rerun elections in the state are conclusive.
Governor Wike called on the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner to seek the opinion of the commission’s legal department on the legal implications of the rerun elections which will hold on 19th March, 2016, long after the three months stipulated in the Electoral Act and the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
He said that the new Resident Electoral Commissioner is a man who understands the terrain of the state and has the capacity to conduct free and fair elections.
Earlier, the Rivers State INEC Electoral Commissioner, Elder Ikoiwak Aniedi said that he paid the courtesy call to inform Governor Wike that rerun elections will hold in the state on 19th March for 3 Senatorial Districts, 12 Federal Constituencies and 22 State Constituencies.
Elder Aniedi applied for the governor’s approval for INEC to use state schools for the elections from March 18 to March 20, 2016.
He assured the people of the state that INEC will conduct free and fair elections in line with the law. He added that the commission will work with security agencies to ensure peaceful polls.