Those who predicted that the 2015 elections in Rivers State would never come to an end any time in the near future, no matter how many reruns or tribunal verdicts, may not be wrong after all. This is because while most Nigerians have since put the 2015 elections behind them and have gone ahead to face acts of governance and development, Rivers State is still bogged down with elections and their violent outcomes without end.
Even though many Nigerians think the December 10, 2016 rerun elections had put paid to the Rivers issue, they may not know that the troubles are yet to the end. This is because both parties have accused the police and army of killing or maiming and also blamed them for where they lost. The APC won one senatorial seat while the PDP swept the rest two, yet each party is charging for war, rejecting the results where they lost.
The highpoint though is the pointed accusation by the PDP that two particular police officers violated their oaths of office to help the APC, while the APC in turn pointedly accused some police men in the escort of the governor (PDP) of violating firearms and electoral laws while on duty.
More so, both parties have accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of doing one evil or the other against their party. It looked like each party procured its own agents within the police and INEC to do its bidding.
Gov Nyesom Wike (PDP) has ceaselessly accused the commander of SARS of working fully for APC especially within Ogoni areas, and an Assistant Commissioner of Police of doing things in favour of APC. He levelled allegations against and wrote petitions; what he got is that six policemen in his entourage were dismissed for shooting at a collation centre in aid of the governor against all election rules. Wike is angry, saying policemen who were accused by the PDP have been left untouched- though the police headquarters in Abuja claim they were still looking into those cases. Citizens however ask why the police did not look into all of the accusations at the same time and issue the verdicts at once.
Now, attention shifts to the INEC. The PDP says 21 INEC ad-hoc staff that took part in the legislative re-run elections in the state and served in areas where candidates of the PDP won have been arrested and detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department, in Port Harcourt. The party claimed that those arrested were transferred to Abuja were they are allegedly being forced to confess receiving money from the Rivers State governor and the PDP candidates to wheel the election to their favour.
The party said its sources inside the police CID in Port Harcourt had hinted that more arrests would be made and those arrested would be transferred to Abuja and paraded during a press conference. The PDP said the APC was behind all of that.
The statement said: “This latest development undoubtedly is a confirmation of the fact that the Police committee that arrived Rivers State on Wednesday, January 11, 2017, is on a mission of witch-hunt against the governor, the PDP leadership, and candidates of the party that emerged victorious in the December 10 re-run election in Rivers State.
“Although the Police authorities have actually made no pretence about their biased role in issues surrounding the exercise in the State, with the premature sack of six of their men attached to the Governor and their refusal to question the conduct of Akin Fakorede (SARS Commander) during the election, but of much concern is what these activities portend for our democracy and the image of the Police and other security forces who swore oath of allegiance of neutrality and to defend, protect and respect the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria, and rights of all citizens, and who are maintained by tax payers’ money, not only those of the APC, but all Nigerians.”
The PDP said it would have expected the Police to be more professional, objective, apolitical, and uphold the tenets of the constitution and regulations as contained in the Electoral Act, relating to the role of security agencies in an election.
“Regrettably, the Police in the case of Rivers State have become a tool of witch-hunt by the federal government and certain Rivers politicians of the APC,” it said, calling for resistance from Nigerians.
Reacting, the APC said despite their efforts and resolve to stay clear of the governor’s problems with the security agencies, that the PDP seemed determined to drag the party to its wars.
The APC said the PDP was simply crying wolf.
“We do not see why the PDP should be too worried that ad-hoc staff of INEC or indeed anybody is invited by the Nigeria Police to assist it on any issue. How that becomes a source of worry for the PDP is baffling to us. Could it be a confirmation of our long-held suspicion that PDP smuggled their members into the INEC ad-hoc staff list in order to do their bidding? Or could the investigation of the ad-hoc staff possibly lead to the unravelling of possible extent and dimensions of compromise of INEC officials by the governor and the PDP hence the apprehension and false alarm?” the party said.
The APC said it was convinced that the camp of the PDP was presently thrown into confusion because the invited ad-hoc INEC staffs were likely to confess and also name those who compromised them over the December 10 rerun election, saying that is the reason behind the panic mode of the state government.
“We wish to remind the governor and his party that a clear conscience fears no accusation, or could it be that INEC and their staff in Rivers State has become the election administrative arm of Rivers PDP? We call on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies not to be fazed by the governor’s antics and empty threats for those are his stock-in-trade without which he may never function true to type,” it further said.
Not too long ago, it was the APC always crying against police, army and INEC and the PDP said then, that they were merely crying ‘wolf’.