1.1 Background of the Study
On Saturday, March 19, the people of Rivers State went to the polls to elect their representatives for the State House of Assembly and the National Assembly. That election followed the ruling of the State Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, which nullified last year’s State and National Assembly polls in the State and subsequently ordered a re-run of the elections in the State.
Thirty-seven seats where context for in the rerun elections into the National and State House of Assemblies and these include 22 seats out of 32 in the Rivers State House of Assembly, 12 House of Representatives and all three Senatorial seats (Channel TV web, 2016).
Unfortunately, the March 19 rerun polls were marked by large scale electoral violence and fraud. At the end of the election, about six people were reported killed, while scores of others suffered various degrees of injuries. The re-run election was characterized by shoddy arrangements by the Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC), leading to late arrival of voting materials to some centers, even though the Commission later explained that this was caused by the assault, abduction and harassment of INEC temporary and permanent staff and collation officers. There were also accusations that the Commission was partisan in the exercise, even as INEC was accused of allowing fake result sheets to be distributed in some polling units. These challenges led to the unfortunate suspension of voting in six Local Government Areas of the State, including Andoni, Khana, Gokana, Bonny, Tai and Eleme by INEC.