Politics

Election Flashpoints: Rivers Lives up to Its Billing

 

Right from the word go, even well before the elec­tion period, Rivers State has stood up, along few other states as red light zones in the ongoing 2015 polls. It was then no big deal when the D-day came and things were not different from the pro­jections.

Immediately words filtered out that the State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi had an alter­cation with the military which restricted his movement on Election Day, there were sponta­neous reactions that Rivers was only living up to its billing.

If one takes into cognisance his encounter with former Com­missioner of Police in the state, Matthew Mbu, now AIG in La­gos, even when the elections had not even started, which was a kind of dress rehearsal, this one would not be considered all that strange except the angle that the governor dared the military to shoot him which they expect­edly did not.

For over two years, the state had been in a sort of war with Amaechi and governorship candidate of the Peoples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) Nyesom Wike leading different camps trying to outdo one another in every area they can take advantage of.

The ding dong affair was to later snowball into what we had last Saturday with threats and counter threats of shooting be­tween the military and security aides of the governor.

Expectedly, the development affected the conduct of the elec­tion in the state with allegations and counter allegations from the PDP and the ruling All Progres­sives Congress (APC).

Already the APC has sent a petition to the Independent Elec­toral Commission (INEC) asking

for the cancellation of the polls on the claims that election did not hold anywhere in the state contrary to the claims by the opposition PDP which is claim­ing victory in the controversial polls.

Already, the Greater Togeth­er Campaign Organisation, (GTCO) (campaign outfit of Dr. Dakuku Peterside, gubernato­rial candidate of the APC in the state, has made a startling rev­elation of how the PDP manip­ulated last weekend’s election with the help of INEC officials in the state.

According to reports from the state, 40,000 incidence forms were sent to Oyigbo Local gov­ernment of the state.

Ibim Semenitari, Director of Communications, GTCO ex­plained that: “They gave it out at 6:30pm on Friday but stopped when the APC Agent complained about it. He was however asked to leave the INEC offices at about 11:30 pm. We believe that they may still give out the incidence forms they have printed as these forms will over-ride the thumb print identification.

 

“Already 120,000 incidence forms were to be sent to Port Harcourt LGA; 80,000 sent to Obio/Akpor and 50, 000 for Ikw­erre LGA. The incidence forms are one of the ways PDP used to rig the elections around the country and especially in the South South and South East where the voter numbers are not as high as in other places,” she said.

Besides, cars were allegedly seen moving into the Rivers State INEC office to pick up inci­dence forms. There was a white Honda Accord vehicle seen driv­ing into the INEC office and leav­ing with incidence forms.

“Mr. Benibo Jack from Abonnema was said to have called to brief the Situation Room with regards to the Akuku Toru incident where INEC ma­terials released to three wards namely 15,16 and 17 were hi­jacked by some unknown boys.

“Mr. Jack was able to inter­vene with the materials of ward 17 in the hands of the hijackers accompanied by the DSS and EO. He recovered the materials of ward 17 and handed them over to the police, precisely to Inspector Gabriel Rebecca at the Abonnema Police Station.

“There has been an attack on the house of Opobo/Nkoro Care­taker Committee Chairman, Hon. Loveday Jaja. The attack­ers moved to destroy his house and hurt him but he was not at home. They have been thumb-printing sensitive materials .

“Another person, Alafagha Oko-Jaja, had his head broken and was profusely bleeding. It was not certain he would sur­vive as a result of the attack.

“Opobo with barely 30,000 votes is the home town of the APC Governorship candidate, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, as well as the Chief of Army Staff, General Kenneth Minimah.

Already, the army has been going around the community harassing people while Chiefs in Kalaibiama are compelling voters to vote for the PDP presi­dential candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. They say it was an or­der from General Minimah,” the group further alleged.

“At about midnight, Mr. Ado­kiye Iyaye reported that the PDP led by Evans Bipi, a House of As­sembly candidate on PDP ticket, in company with Army and Po­lice personnel took over INEC office in Ogu/Bolo.

“Supporters of APC in Ogu/Bolo were beaten up and arrest­ed. Chief Jonah Tamuno, APC party leader in Ogu/Bolo, con­firmed that the combined team of soldiers and police broke into his house and arrested Tamuno-Tonye Arimaka. Also beaten up and arrested at INEC office were APC Ogu/Bolo party agents in­cluding Christian Nyingiyikabo, Samuel Iyaye and Michael Oru­wari.

“Evans Bipi and the combined team of military and police have been moving from house to house terrorizing the com­munity and beating up APC supporters. Many persons have fled the community. Some had to leave by sea in the wee hours of yesterday morning,” the GTCO added.

Already, the state chapter of APC has called for the immedi­ate suspension of the State Resi­dent Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mrs. Gesila Khan, for col­luding with the PDP to rig last weekend’s presidential and Na­tional Assembly elections in the State.

According to a statement APC  listed the irregularities that surrounding the election in the state over the weekend, citing Mrs. Khan as the major culprit.

The statement signed in Port Harcourt by the State Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, read: “For Mrs. Khan to have removed the INEC result sheets in all the polling units in the State with the intention of rigging the polls is a very serious criminal offence”.

The election was disrupted even before it started when APC leaders including Governor Amaechi requested to see the INEC results sheets before being accredited which INEC officials said were not available.

According to them, “Mrs. Khan should not only be sus­pended but should not be al­lowed to conduct the April 11 Gubernatorial and State Assem­bly elections, as well as the Pres­idential and National Assembly elections when rescheduled”.

The party commended INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, for acknowledging the party’s petition on the polls in Rivers State, noting that “We are very convinced that if our case is thoroughly investi­gated it will be confirmed that the State REC, Mrs. Khan, compro­mised her office and tarnished the good image of INEC”.

The state APC also defended the action of its Governor, Roti­mi Amaechi, in requesting to see the INEC result sheets and other sensitive materials for the con­duct of last weekend’s polls.

The party said: “The Governor took that step as we were aware that the State REC had traded off the result sheets to PDP to write the results as they deemed fit. Amaechi wanted to prevent a situation whereby people would queue to vote while PDP and INEC would write a different result not reflecting the true vot­ing pattern in the State.

“It is sad that the PDP lead­ership in Rivers State could be so callous to arm the youths in order to kill and maim Rivers State people because of election. We know that Rivers people are peace-loving buy arming some of the youths at this time does not do anyone any good because it may be difficult to retrieve some of these arms from these youths later, thereby constituting a seri­ous security challenge

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Ihesiulo Grace

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