Gridlock as police, soldiers besiege INEC, CBN offices in Rivers

There was heavy presence of soldiers and policemen at the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission and Central Bank of Nigeria in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday, which caused gridlock on the busy Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway and Azikiwe Road, where they are respectively located.

On the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway, policemen and operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps blocked two out of the four lanes that motorists usually ply, creating a gridlock in the process.

At the CBN office, stern looking soldiers and policemen surrounded the facility, ostensibly to secure sensitive electoral materials kept there before their onward distribution to various destinations for Saturday’s elections.

A commercial bus driver, who identified himself simply as Tobi, who spoke with Southern City News, said he was afraid when he saw unusual number of security men on the road, adding that the entire environment looked as if the security operatives were preparing for war.

He noted that he had to stay in the gridlock for about an hour before he could wriggle out.

Tobi stated, “When the security men decided to block two out of the four lanes on the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway because they are guiding INEC office, the result is the gridlock that people are experiencing on that road.

“Even the policemen and civil defence men, who are causing all these problems for us on the road, are in the hot sun. They ought to have concentrated on the INEC office that they are protecting and stop disturbing innocent drivers, who are going about their business.”

A motorist, who did not want his name mentioned, described the blockage of two out of the four lanes as barbaric.

“The traffic jam that their action has caused is felt by every driver that passes through the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway today (Thursday). They (security operatives) should man the INEC gate.

“It is enough that they have armoured personnel carriers by the side of INEC’s gate in Port Harcourt, coming to block two lanes of the road and making motorists to go through tough time is senseless.”

Outside the CBN office, the presence of soldiers and policemen on the Azikiwe/Moscow Road was responsible to the unusual slow movement of vehicles in the area.

When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the NSCDC, Rivers State Command, Mr Akin Oguntuase, said though he was not aware of the development, he would speak on it as soon as he was briefed.

But the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Nnamdi Omoni, told our correspondent that the heavy presence of security operatives on the said roads was due to the distribution of materials that would be used for Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.