Few hours to the National Assembly and State House rerun elections in Rivers State, the state, especially its capital Port Harcourt, remains calm and residents are going about their normal lives.
But there are still fears of possible violence when the election hold on Saturday.
The Independent National Electoral Commission will conduct rescheduled rerun elections across three senatorial districts, eight federal constituencies and 10 state constituencies in the state.
Two factors make the exercise a high risk: the animosity between Governor Nyesom Wike and his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, and the state’s notorious history of electoral violence.
The two men represent the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic Party respectively.
On Friday, Port Harcourt was calm, as residents went about their businesses in several areas including Rumuola, Airforce base, GRA, Moscow Road, Abari park, Airport Road, Aba Road.
“You have now seen Port Harcourt is not a war zone and it is just like any other day,” said a taxi passenger, heading to Moscow Road from Abari park.
Except INEC office on Aba Road, there are hardly other spots with heavy security presence.
Between Thursday evening and Friday morning, thousands of policemen seen around Moscow Road, had been deployed to their various places of assignment.
But the fear of violence hangs in the air.
“Well everywhere is calm now but there may still be violence tomorrow because the Governor (Mr. Wike) and Amaechi have taken the elections as do or die,” said a young restaurant operator, echoing fears raised by other residents.
“There are bad boys in this state who operate for the two of them,” he added.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, a civil society activist and Chairman of Partners for Electoral Reforms, Nwagu Ezenwa, said although Port Harcourt and other places in the state appeared calm, there was high sense of insecurity in the state.
“Tension is not a tangible thing you can measure but there indicators,” said Mr. Ezenwa. “Yesterday (Thursday), night life in Port Harcourt was unusually zero; people were leaving the city; and everywhere you go people tell you ‘be careful’, know where to go.”
“These are indicators people feel insecure and gripped by tension,” Mr. Ezenwa said.
He condemned political actors for stoking tension in the state.
“Their plan is to scare people and deny them participation so that the political class can do what they whatever they want,” he said.
Rivers Police spokesperson, Omoni Nnamdi, told PREMIUM TIMES 28,000 officers were deployed for the elections, assuring of readiness to ensure a violence-free polls tomorrow.
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