Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), have traded accusations over the persons behind the burning of the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of the state, which occurred early morning of Friday.
Governor Wike stated that the perpetrators were the same politicians, who wrote to INEC seeking postponement of the rerun elections on the ground of insecurity.
The governor, who addressed journalists after inspecting the burnt section of the INEC office, said that arson should not serve as an excuse for the postponement of the rerun elections in the state.
The governor regretted that politicians, who were afraid of the rerun elections, would go to the extent of burning down public facility to convince INEC that the rerun elections should be shifted.
He noted that no election materials had been deposited at the office, pointing out that the burnt section only served as a hall for collation.
He said: “Those who burnt this office were not ready for the elections. They don’t want INEC to conduct the elections because they know that they don’t have the chances of winning.
“They want to use the issue of insecurity to justify the request for postponement. If not, INEC has not brought election materials to this office. What they have done is to scare INEC. For us, we are not surprised. We know this is what they have planned to do.”
He advised INEC not to be deterred by the arson, noting that the commission should go ahead with the elections as scheduled.
The governor directed security agencies to fish out the perpetrators of the crime and advised politicians not to see elections as a do or die affair, advising that they must submit themselves to the will of the people.
He said that the state government will provide an alternative office for INEC to conduct the July 30 elections in the area.
He said the people have been duly mobilised and they are ready to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, the Khana Divisional Police Officer, Stephen Okunade, said there was no security at the INEC office at the time of the arson, adding the lone private security guard was absent when the perpetrators struck.
Earlier in his reaction, the state chapter of APC urged security agencies to hold the governor responsible for the arson visited on INEC office by hoodlums suspected to be members of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
State chairman of APC, Davies Ikanya, in a statement made available to journalists in Port Harcourt, said the attack was a clear manifestation of earlier threat on INEC made by the governor.