• Buratai: Military to investigate killing of personnel Over 200 killed in poll violence between 2015/2016

By Ahamefula Ogbu in Lagos, Tobi Soniyi in Abuja, Senator Iroegbu in Owerri and Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

As voters in Rivers State file out this morning in a re-run election to fill national and state assembly seats amidst violence, high tension and very tight security, the outcome is expected to have far-reaching political implications in Rivers State in particular and Nigeria in general.
Already, pre-election violence has claimed several lives. But the combined team of security operatives put together for the poll has assured that today’s ‘do-or-die’ election triggered by desperation to win, which present an ominous signal with far-reaching implications would be free and fair.

While Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples Democratic Party is aiming to consolidate on his political gains, he is also fighting a battle for survival as former governor and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of the All Progressives Congress is fighting to supplant him and retain a foot hold in the state which had been taken away from him.
The calculation being that should APC’s Amaechi win majority in the state’s House of Assembly, he may rally the members to initiate impeachment proceedings against Wike and ensure his removal from power.

At the national level, the three Rivers Senatorial seats are up for grabs. The seats were won by the PDP in the last election but were annulled by the courts.
Should APC win any of the senatorial seats, the configuration in the Senate would change as APC would ramp up more power while the PDP would lose strength.
The calculus is that should APC win even one of the three senatorial seats, it would have whittled down the power and control of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and make him more vulnerable. Though, he is of the APC, he rode on the back of the PDP Senators who gave him block vote to emerge senate president against the APC favoured candidate.
If PDP maintains its former steam by winning all the seats as it previously did, it would be able to sustain its position in the National Assembly while playing the role of opposition party more effectively.

However, should the APC make an inroad into any of the areas hitherto controlled by the PDP, then the power it is wielding will further increase while that of PDP diminishes.
Also, there are 12 House of Representatives seats to be contested for today.
The implication of who wins what at the House of Representatives may not be as consequential as that of the Senate as the pressure there is less than what obtains in the Senate. However should APC win any of the seats, it would increase its numerical strength in the lower house.
The status of Rivers State as an oil producing state appears to be an integral drive for its soul as Chairman of the APC, Odigie Oyegun once lamented the loss of Rivers and Akwa Ibom State, pointing out that the states in spite of the fall in oil price was strategic to their government.

Unfortunately, through the ballot and the courts, APC lost almost all the oil producing states of Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Ondo, leaving only Edo State.
NHRC: Perpetrators of Electoral Violence in Rivers Will Be Prosecuted…
In a related development, the National Human Rights Commission yesterday issued an advisory to all the political parties and their supporters involved in today’s re-run election in Rivers State to play by the rules and refrain from engaging in acts capable of undermining the electoral process.

In a statement released in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the commission, Prof. Bem Angwe warned that the commission would in exercise of its statutory mandate seek criminal indictment, prosecution and punishment of any person or party involved in election violence.
Angwe called on the leaders of the political parties to ensure that their members and supporters were made aware of the implications of participating in electoral violence including incitements, attacks and destruction of properties adding that perpetrators of such acts would bear criminal responsibility for the violent acts.
Angwe said: “For the avoidance of doubt, the commission will deploy monitors during the elections and will not hesitate to apply the full weight of the law on such criminal elements under national and international law.”
The commission noted that election was not a war and that those who are perpetrating violence in the name of elections were the enemies of democracy and should be treated as such.
Buratai: Military to Investigate Killing of Personnel in Rivers…
also yesterday, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai said that the military had commenced investigation into the incident that led to the death of two Nigerian Army personnel Rivers State.
Buratai disclosed this yesterday in Government House Owerri, after addressing troops at the 34 Artillery Brigade Headquarters, Obinze.
He described the incident as unfortunate, assuring that Army had brought the situation under control.

He said: “The situation in the Niger Delta is presently being addressed. The activities of pirates, criminals and bandits will be checked, our troops are fully on ground and they have arrested the situation.
“The unfortunate incident of Thursday in Rivers state is something that we are currently investigating. We will deal with the situation as investigation unfolds in the area”.
Rivers Government Raises the Alarm over Fake Soldiers…
The Rivers State Government has raised the alarm over alleged fake soldiers and security operatives “detailed to arrest members of the PDP” in today’s election.
“The government has therefore advised the leadership of the party at all levels to resist any form of intimidation and arrest by security agencies in the course of the elections,” said a statement from the government.

The statement issued by the office of the Security Adviser to the Rivers State Governor yesterday directed all PDP members to resist any form of intimidation and arrest by people he described as “fake SARS personnel deployed by the Rivers State SARS Commander, Mr Akin Fakorede to compromise election security and manipulate the electoral process in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC)”.
At least 200 killed in political violence…
Since the build up to the 2015 general elections and the subsequent re-run elections, at least 200 people have been killed in Rivers State in politically- related violence.
Rivers State, indeed Port Harcourt, the state capital, was once known as the Garden City of the country, not just because of the green nature of the city but also because of the peace that reigned in the place.

But with the turn of the 4th Republic, the state has lost most of that reputation; replacing it with the uncanny reputation of a killing field, Rivers of Blood.
In the build up to the 2015 general elections, at least 150 people were killed in politically-related violence. The major political parties accused each other of being responsible.
The killings spread through Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (ONELGA), through Ahoada East and West, Abua/Odual, Tai, Akukutoru, Asaritoru, Buguma, Khana, Gokana, Andoni, Opobo/Nkoro to Obio/Akpor, Bonny and indeed almost all local government areas of the state.
The police, then, said most of the violence and killings were cult related.
But in ONELGA, one APC chieftain, Chief Christopher Adube, was murdered, alongside his three children, his driver and a relative at Obrikom on April 3, 2015.
The APC fingered the PDP in the death of its member, an accusation the PDP refuted. The police is yet to make a statement on the perpetrators of that killing.
In the build up to today’s re-run elections, the state has witnessed similar violence.
In Ahoada West Local Government area, for instance, at least 20 persons have been slaughtered in cult-related violence.

In Omoku, on February 13, suspected cultists killed 15 persons, adding to the gale of murders in the area.
The same week, a former member of the House of Assembly, Monday Eleanya, who hails from the area, was murdered in cold as he left his Port Harcourt residence.
Just last Thursday, two soldiers; a major and a rating, were killed in Abonemma, in what was said to be an ambush by suspected pirates.