Sen Magnus Ngei Abe, the gubernatorial candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Rivers State has disclosed that he supported the relocation of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal from Port Harcourt to Abuja, because of the volatile atmosphere in the state.
This is as Abe alleged that members of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers were forced to adopt the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Siminalaye Fubara, as the candidate of the state.
Abe, who spoke on a live television programme monitored in Port Harcourt, said it would have been difficult for opposition political parties and their candidates to appear before the tribunal if it had sat in the State Capital.
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He said: “I think that anybody who has been watching developments in Rivers State will see that there was really no way the tribunal could sit in Port Harcourt.
“Even the opportunity for members of the opposition parties to access INEC Office in Port Harcourt and be able to get materials or information from INEC to enable them present their petitions before the tribunal was physically and violently resisted.
“People were beaten up; nobody could go near the INEC Office. The place was kept under siege and the police allowed this to go for days. Nothing was done to bring it under control.
“So, clearly, the option of the tribunal actually sitting in Port Harcourt to do any meaningful work; anybody who has been watching events in the State knows that it was not even an option.
“There is no way anybody could have been able to go before the tribunal in Port Harcourt and be able to make a case. Even the tribunal is also made up of human beings, who also fear for their lives.
“The volatile political atmosphere in the State affected everybody and affected everything. I think that at the end of the day, the tribunal had no option than to relocate to Abuja, where we believe that everybody will get a better opportunity to be able to present their cases.”