Sampson Itode, Port Harcourt
An Independent National Electoral Commission collation officer, Dr Felix Nte, on Wednesday told the commission of inquiry into the violence and killings that marred the February 23 and March 9 elections in Rivers State that he chewed INEC papers in fear following gunshots by security men.
Nte, who served in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the state during the polls, said he panicked and ran out of the collation centre.
The INEC official, who was invited to testify as a witness on the alleged ‘militarisation’ of the electoral process in the state, added that while he was stranded, he was assisted by a leader of the Peoples Democratic Party to escape to a nearby hotel with the sensitive materials for the polls.
He said, “I arrived at INEC office in Oyibo LGA at about 12pm and collected materials. I was later ushered into the collation centre and shown my table. From that moment, it appeared I was caged by the military.
“Before the announcement of the results, the pressure became much and we managed to smuggle our way out because of the indiscriminate shootings. Before I realised what was happening, I was chewing INEC papers. I was about to eat my SIM card before someone tapped me and shouted, ‘do you want to kill yourself?’
“It was one Chisom, who saw my helpless situation and took me to a hotel in the area. The noise I heard seemed like that of military. But I did not see them. When I recovered from the shock, I did not see the bags I was carrying again.”