Five opposition political parties in Rivers State have vowed to resist any attempt to rig the March 18 governorship and State House of Assembly elections in the state.
The parties at a joint press briefing in Port Harcourt on Wednesday accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of colluding with the state government to compromise the election.
The parties are the All Progressives Congress (APC), the National Rescue Movement, the Labour Parry, African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Action Alliance (AA).
Speaking, the APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, accused the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, of planning to clamp down on opposition parties during the poll.
Cole said, “We demand that INEC should stop all government officials from accessing the collation centres.
“We also demand INEC to restrict the movement of government officials, including the Governor and Local Government Chairmen at the collation centres, as their presence will compromise the electoral process.
“We want a peaceful, free and fair election. Only accredited party agents should have access to the collation centres.
“Foreign missions and international observers should pay special attention to the elections in Rivers State because Rivers State government in collaboration with INEC officials have perfected plans to rig the elections on Saturday,” he said.
Continuing, he said, “INEC should assure us that the BVAS will work this time and that results will be uploaded at the polling units. Then there should be adequate security at the Local Government collation centres on March 18.”
Similarly, the governorship candidate of NRM, Sobomabo Jackreech, accused INEC of colluding with Wike to rig the elections even before March 18th and urged the commission to come out clean.
He stated, “The information we have is that they have perfected plans to rig at the local government collation centres and INEC is in collaboration with them.
“We are not ready for the violence that is why we are calling on INEC to come out clean by directing the state governor and LGA Chairmen to stay away from collation centres.”
On his part, the ADC governorship candidate, Tonte Ibraye, vowed to resist any form of rigging.
But when contacted, INEC Head, Voter Education and Publicity in Rivers, Mr Mark Usulor, said the allegations were false and baseless.
Usulor said, “It is not true and can never be true. It is a false allegation, fake news and misinformation.
“Such allegation should be discountenanced because it is baseless and lack foundation.
“We are a transparent electoral commission even though we had some glitches in the last election.
“But that doesn’t mean we are colluding with any political party or government because it is not in our ethics.
“We are here to conduct a credible and acceptable election for the people of Rivers State,” he insisted.
Also, the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Chris Finebone, said the parties were expressing unfounded fears and propaganda.
Finebone said, “In the last election, the governor after several hours was able to vote because of the malfunctioning of the BVAS machine and thereafter he left for his house.
“Whatever you heard about him going around trying to influence people is fake news. Nothing of such happened and I believe you monitored the election.
“What is happening is that they are foreseeing their failure and trying to lay a foundation of a narrative that will explain their failure in the election.
“The governor does not intend and never will try to influence anybody, including INEC. All he will do on Saturday is to go cast his vote and go back home”