The Independent National Electoral Commission Sunday said it has suspended electoral processes in Rivers State due to “widespread disruption” of elections on Saturday.

“The initial reports suggest that violence occurred in a substantial number of polling units and collation centres,” INEC’s head of information and voter education committee Festus Okoye said.

“Staff have been taken hostage and materials including result sheets have either been seized or destroyed by unauthorised persons.

The statement reads:

Based on reports from our officials in the field, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has determined that there has been a widespread disruption of elections conducted on the 9th day of March 2019 in Rivers state.

“These initial reports suggest that violence occurred in a substantial number of polling units and collation centres, staff have been taken hostage and materials including result sheets have either been seized or destroyed by unauthorised persons. In addition, safety of our staff appears to be in jeopardy all over the state and the commission is concerned about the credibility of the process.

“Consequently, at a meeting held today 10th March 2019, the commission has decided to suspend all electoral processes in the state until further notice. This is in line with Section 26 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and Clause 479e0 of the Regulations and Guidelines of the commission.

Similarly, the United Kingdom (UK) has also expressed concern over reports of alleged military interference in the gubernatorial and state House of Assembly elections in Rivers state.

The UK High Commission said in a tweet on its verified Twitter handle, @UKinNigeria, on Sunday afternoon, March 10, that reports including from its own observers spoke of military interference in the election in the state.

The High Commission said it was monitoring the situation very closely, adding that INEC’s staff should be allowed to do their job in safety, without intimidation. “Extremely concerned by reports, including from @UKinnigeria observers, of military interference in the election process in Rivers state.

Monitoring the situation closely @inecng staff must be allowed to do their job in safety, without intimidation,” the UK High Commission tweeted.

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