The Nigerian electoral authorities announced on Sunday the cessation of activities in the volatile, oppositional Rivers State, which mentioned violence and threats to their staff as tensions rise following the vigilant regional elections.
After the Saturday elections in 29 out of 36 Nigerian states, all state assemblies and governing councils in the federal capital district of Abuja are counted throughout the country. Results are expected in the coming days.
The Declaration of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which halted the electoral process in the oil-rich rivers, took place after dozens of men in military powers had surrounded a polling center in the provincial capital of Port Harcourt. This sparked international concern and a refusal of the soldiers' armed forces was involved.
While not directly mentioning the incident, INEC said that "the safety of our employees across the state seems at risk and the Commission is worried about the credibility of the process."
Reports from his teams in Rivers indicate that "violence has taken place in a significant number of polling stations and gathering centers, employees have been taken hostage, and material, including leaflets, has either been confiscated or destroyed by unauthorized persons."
AFP reporters in Port Harcourt said men in military uniforms were blocking roads around the building where INEC employees counted votes, leading to a dispute with the police, which initially opposed tear gas but eventually retreated.
Hard-fought regional elections
The Nigerian military categorically denied that the men were in its ranks and accused "political thugs" of dressing up in army uniforms and carrying weapons to "incarnate soldiers and commit various crimes for the activities of their political counterparts." To promote bosses ".
Earlier, the British High Commission in Abuja had tweeted that it was "extremely worried" about "reports of military interference in the electoral process in Rivers State."
Regional elections are fiercely fought in Nigeria, where governors are powerful and influential figures who control state finances and are responsible for key areas from education to health.
In Lagos, President Muhammadu Buhari's ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) retained control of the governorship, according to findings from a local INEC official.
APC's Babajide Sanwo-Olu had taken on a major challenge from Jimmy Agbaje, candidate of the opposition party Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for the control of commercial capital, which was particularly important because of its sheer size and role as the main engine of the country's economy was.
Saturday was the second time in fourteen days that Nigerians had cast their votes following the February presidential election, which saw Buhari gain a second term, a result denied by the PDP.
Incidents of violence drove the poll on Saturday with reports of abductions and killings, as well as concerns over the election campaign and a strong military presence.
The opposition PDP, which has criticized the INEC decision in Rivers, hopes for victory in some of the 22 states currently headed by Buharis APC.
Tensions in the southern Delta state were joined by a court ruling that prevented APC candidates from voting in the governing ballot due to procedural irregularities in the selection process.
Acting PDP Governor Nyesom Wike, who was re-elected as a favorite, reacted with anger to the suspension of voters in Rivers and called on the INEC to ensure that the vote "to ensure peace" is respected.
"They started a war, they want to install a puppet, but no, they can not stand … the will of the people of Rivers can not be undermined, we are not cowards," he said on Twitter.
According to the country's transport minister, three people were killed Friday in Rivers following clashes between APC and PDP supporters.
Violence also overshadowed the electoral process in other states, including the kidnapping of three INEC employees in the north of the state of Katsina, who had been ambushed on Saturday.
Most national and international observers said the presidential election last month was credible despite well-documented issues. However, the tensions remain high as the PDP challenges the outcome in court.