- Ijaw Youths Demand Probe of Crises
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, regarded as the umbrella body of all youths of Ijaw descent, monday demanded a thorough probe of the violence which characterised last Saturday’s rerun elections in some parts of Rivers State.
In a statement issued by its spokesman, Mr. Eric Omare, monday, the group condemned the killings and maiming which took place during the polls, and called on relevant authorities to investigate the roles played by the security agencies, political leaders and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The IYC claimed that the information available to the council indicated that more than 15 persons had been killed so far, noting that if nothing was done, more lives might be lost in future elections in the state.
“We strongly believe that the statements of major political players in the days leading to the elections heightened tension and contributed to the violence during the elections.
“Political leaders in the state did not display the high sense of responsibility that was expected of them. The IYC is worried about the way and manner elections are conducted in Nigeria in recent times especially in the Niger Delta region,” the body said.
It noted that elections, instead of being an opportunity for the electorate to express their preference for candidates of their choice, had become a theatre of war in the region as recently experienced in Bayelsa State and currently in Rivers State.
While expressing fears that the trend was capable of encouraging and contributing to another round of security challenge in the region, the group blamed the security agencies and Nigeria’s electoral umpire for the violence.
“Security agencies which are supposed to be neutral and provide security for the electorate have now descended into the arena of conflict by displaying obvious loyalty to the major political parties instead of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This show of shame was openly displayed at the Mile 1 Police Station in Port Harcourt last Sunday. This is highly condemnable and totally unacceptable.
“We are also worried by the inability of the INEC to conduct hitch-free elections in recent times. The shoddy preparations and lack of transparent conduct of the electoral body is a contributory factor to the violence that has been associated with elections.
“This is an obvious retrogression from the gains that were achieved in electoral reform under the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan with Prof. Attahiru Jega as INEC Chairman. INEC should be transparent in its conduct to avoid suspicion which leads to violence during the elections,” IYC argued.
The group called on the military authorities to take steps to discipline military officers who were involved or contributed to the killings, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to secure lives and property of Nigerian citizen
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the Rivers South East senatorial district re-run election, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, has condemned in strong terms the assassination attempt on Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Chief Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, Chairman of APC and former deputy governorship candidate of APC in the 2015 general election in the state, Hon. Asita O. Asita on Sunday.
In a statement signed by his spokesperson, Parry Saroh Benson, Abe frowned at the escalating violence in the state and described it as barbaric, intended to truncate democracy in the state.
Abe therefore, called on President Muhamadu Buhari to investigate the happenings in the state under the present administration of Governor Nyesom Wike.
He cited the case of Gokana Local Government Area last Saturday where thugs loyal to the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not only disrupted the elections but threw dynamites into the INEC office as well as opened fire with assault rifles on security personnel thereby scaring away voters, electoral officials and other innocent Nigerians.
The senatorial candidate further stated that this kind of action by the PDP leadership has become a common place in recent time and urged the federal government to step up and do the needful in order to prevent the loss of life and property.
“It is clear that the great burden of governance and its responsibility can no longer be shouldered by people who do not understand the meaning of civic responsibility,” the statement added.