EU condemns Rivers by-election violence

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Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt

THE European Union on Monday condemned the violence that marred the by-election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission in Port Harcourt Constituency 3, describing the outcome of the exercise as unacceptable.

The Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States, Ketil Karlson, hailed INEC for its decision to suspend the by-election.

Karlson spoke at the University of Port Harcourt, venue of an event tagged, “Youths’ Votes Count Campus Outreach,” organised by the EU and INEC.

Kalson pointed out that the suspension of the Rivers by-election was an indication that INEC had improved in the conduct of elections under the leadership of Prof Mahmood Yakubu.

He said the EU was working to address issues of vote-buying and intimidation of INEC officials by politicians.

He explained that the UNIPORT event was aimed at ensuring that youths participated fully in the 2019 elections as well as ensure that the elections were free, fair and credible.

He explained that security agents must work towards ensuring violent-free polls and embrace political neutrality.

“What happened in Port Harcourt is a matter of concern; what happened in Port Harcourt is unacceptable. The international community and the EU are watching what is going on.

“The security apparatus has a role to play in jealously guarding their political neutrality. So, everybody has a role to play, including the political parties.

“Although there had been an improvement on the part of INEC, it is not everything that will be eradicated at once. But it will get better.”

Also, INEC Chairman, Yakubu, warned that the commission would not accept any election that did not meet the guidelines for choosing representatives into government.

Yakubu, who was represented by INEC’s National Commissioner, Solomon Soyebi, urged the youths, including those in tertiary institutions to register, collect their Permanent Voter Cards and participate in the elections.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has described as embarrassing the security failure during the by-election.

The governor spoke on Monday when the European Ambassador to Nigeria and his counterpart from Ireland met with him at the Government House in Port Harcourt.

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