The All Progressives Congress (APC), governorship candidate at the last elections in Rivers state, Dakuku Peterside and former Senator Magnus Abe were thoroughly tear gassed by the security officials at the gate of the National Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when they came to submit their protest letter to the Acting Chairman of INEC, Amina Zakari.
Peterside and Abe who led a team of 48 candidates who contested for the various elective offices on the APC platform in River state to were drenched with teargas, including newsmen who were at the INEC headquarters to cover the protest.
The protesters, who stormed the INEC Headquarters at about 11:15 a.m, were prevented from moving close to the gate by a team of mobile police, and Civil Defence officers who insisted that they would not be allowed to go beyond the barricaded areas since there was no prior information of their visit to the Commission.
Also in the team were the former House of Representatives members, including Andrew Uchendu, Otelemaba Amachree, Dawari George, Igochukwu Aguma, as well as other former members of the Rivers state House of Assembly, and the chairman of APC in Rivers state, Denis Ebiamo Ikanya.
Upon the identification of the leaders of the protesters, the Deputy Director in charge of security at the commission, Victor Egbun, urged them to send their representatives to meet with the Acting Chairman of INEC.
However, the protesters insisted that all the 48 protesting candidates of the APC should be allowed to move into the Commission.
After so many pleas and persuasions from the protesters who insisted that they were peaceful, the Deputy Director went back to see the Acting National Chairman who insisted that she can only receive their representatives and not only all of them as a team, since she was already in a meeting with the Rivers State Electoral Officer, Ghesilla Khan on the same matter.
Trouble started when the security officials threatened to shoot the protesters if they crossed the barricaded areas, a threat which forced them to raise their voices and move towards the INEC gate, which had already been closed under lock and key by the security officials.
As the protester approached the INEC gate chanting solidarity songs, security officials released some canisters of tear-gas in front of their leaders, members and journalists around in an attempt to disperse them.
Speaking on the protest, the APC governorship candidate in Rivers state, Dakuku Peterside who was challenging the election of Nyesom Wike at the tribunals said “We are candidates of the APC at the various categories in the last election; we are here to register our protest to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“Immediately after the elections, in accordance with the law, we applied for certified true copies and documents used for the conduct of the election.
“It is unfortunate that till date, we have not got the certified copies of the election materials, even when it is clear in the law that it must be released within seven days of receiving the application.
“As if that was not enough, we have approached various tribunals, which have also ordered for the release of those materials. But unfortunately those orders have not been complied with till date.