Nigeria’s electoral body INEC on Saturday cancelled a re-run of disputed elections in six local government areas in the volatile southern oil-rich Rivers state because of irregularities.
The re-run for seats in the Rivers state assembly and the national assembly in Abuja became necessary after court rulings on challenges to the initial results of last year elections.
Rivers electoral commissioner Aneidi Ikoiwak told reporters in Port Harcourt, the state capital, that polls were suspended in Gokana, Khana, Andoni, Bonny, Eleme and Tai due to “irregularities” during Saturday’s voting.
The elections went ahead in the remaining 17 of 23 local government areas going to the polls. The official said some party agents had attacked electoral officials after accusing them of using fake election materials for the vote.
“This allegation is untrue. All election materials used by INEC are genuine. A new date will be announced for the election,” he said. Local media said the polls were marred by violence in some areas, with at least four people being killed, but the police said nobody had died.
“There were some skirmishes here and there and we have contained the situation. At least 12 suspects are in our custody,” state police spokesman Ahmad Muhammad told AFP.
Rivers state has long been a flashpoint for political violence with the two leading parties – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) trading blame.
PDP controls the oil-rich state but the APC-led central government in Abuja seeks to oust it from power. Tight security had been ordered for Saturday’s polls, including movement restrictions and a ban on speedboats.
On Thursday, the military said suspected sea pirates killed two soldiers in a gun battle, as tensions rose ahead of Saturday’s polls.
Dozens of people were killed in the run-up to last year’s general election in the state condemned by local and international observers as marred by violence and irregularities.
Rivers and the Niger Delta region were plagued in the 2000s by rebels who attacked oil pipelines and kidnapped workers as part of a campaign for a fairer share of crude revenues.