Rivers Re-run: INEC, Police Colluding with APC to Rig Election, Says Wike

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  • Alleges police reluctance to prosecute suspected printers of INEC materials  Investigation on-going, say police  
  • PDP alleges Amaechi’s link to fake result merchants

By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and   Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police of colluding with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to rig the December 10 rerun legislative elections in the state.

He also accused the police of being reluctant to prosecute those arrested at the weekend for allegedly printing sensitive INEC materials including fake result sheets to be used in the election.

Addressing a press conference yesterday at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on behalf of leaders and stakeholders of the state, Wike wondered how the arrested printer and the APC got sensitive INEC materials with which they were printing the fake result sheets.

“INEC has not told us Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) units where the rerun elections will take place but the commission has given such vital information to the APC and that is what the APC is using to print fake result sheets for senatorial, House of Representatives and state House of Assembly elections in eight local government areas in the state,” Wike stated.

He stated that most of the fake result sheets printed were for the Rivers South East senatorial district and Etche Local Government Area in Rivers East senatorial zone.

He also alleged: “INEC has a hidden agenda to rig the rerun election in the state at all cost. The commission claimed it cannot organise election in Rivers State because of violence; a state that is one of the most peaceful in Nigeria. Yet barely 24 hours after the Senate gave them ultimatum, they announced a date for election without consulting anybody. Now, the police have joined in plans to rig the election.”

Wike said instead of prosecuting the suspects who were caught red-handed with the INEC materials and arresting former Commissioner for Agriculture who was alleged to have given the printers the contract, the police were saying they were under pressure to release the suspects and also not to arrest Chinda.

He also expressed regret that the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, had refused to act on over 15 petitions which he wrote to him in respect of the posting of some senior police officers, whom he alleged were posted to the state to do a hatchet job in favour of the APC during the election.

The governor said: “With the arrest of the printer, who is a member of the APC, we know that INEC is colluding with the APC. We have always said it that INEC has a hidden agenda and wants to rig the election for the APC by all means.

“As I speak to you now, we made sure we had a video evidence of the documents before handing them over to the police. Police are telling us now that they are under pressure to release the people and not to charge them to court.

“The police want to destroy the evidence. They must

conclude investigations and charge those involved to court. The police must arrest Emmanuel Chinda, the man who gave the contract and charge them to court.

“The plot is to bring the fake result sheets to the polling units, in agreement with security agents and push away our agents and then, concoct results. That is the role INEC is playing with the Nigerian Police.

“Let the public know that PDP will resist any attempt by INEC to rig the December 10 election. You print fake result sheets and you expect us not to resist it. They want us to fold our hands and allow them to smuggle in fake result sheets.

“If you rig the rerun election, you rig your life. Let me see the INEC commissioner that will do that. If they like let them bring the Marines. INEC should not take us for a ride. We will not allow it. Do the right thing and conduct free and fair election.”

He however stated that the party has no plans to resort to violence.

“If the police fail to prosecute the suspects, they are asking us to help ourselves and we have the capacity to do so. But we are law-abiding and will not do anything against the law. But I also know that  the president will call them to order.

Wike also described APC’s claim that PDP thugs planted the materials as laughable.

“The allegations of APC is laughable. Did I plant the APC man who is also cousin to Dr. Dakuku Peterside and who was APC collation agent in Opobo during the governorship election? Did you expect the APC to accept?” he queried.

He said the APC was already intimidating judges ahead of the election so they could have a leeway should the matter get to the tribunal.

“We are fully prepared for election on December 10. You must kill all Rivers people before you can take the state,” he stated.

The APC had in its reaction, through the state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Chris Finebone, said the idea of the PDP was to  plant electoral materials in the homes of APC chieftain so as to arrest them and keep them out of the way before the rerun election.

Finebone said: “The idea of the PDP is to plant election materials in some homes of individuals claiming they are APC members so as to take some of our chieftains out of circulation before the rerun election. Emma Chinda they mentioned has not been in Port Harcourt for a very long time.

“Their target is to paint Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Peterside black. For us, they should come forth and show us prove. Security agents should come up to tell us if the operation was genuine or not.”

Meanwhile, the police have denied any plan to release the suspects arrested over the printing of fake result sheets.

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni (DSP), yesterday said: “Arrests were made. The suspects are currently being interrogated. After that, the police will make public their findings and those found culpable will be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, the  PDP has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the police discovery of a fake election material printing firm in Rivers State which allegedly had links to the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.

The party said the discovery of the fake election result sheet syndicate has lent credence to its assertions that the APC has deployed resources to subvert the democratic process and democracy in Nigeria.

The Police had in a raid on Saturday in a printing press located at No. 12, Isiokpo Street, Port Harcourt, Rivers State discovered a large number of printed copies of result sheets for several local governments in Rivers State where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has slated elections for December 10 re-run National Assembly elections.

PDP said in a statement issued yesterday by its spokesman, Adeyeye that during questioning, one Peterside was quoted as saying that “he was detailed to print the electoral materials by Hon. Emmanuel Chinda, former Commissioner for Agriculture during the tenure of  Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.”

“We call on President Buhari to order an investigation into this matter and ensure that everyone involved in this dastardly plot to subvert the will of the Nigerian people is brought to book, no matter how highly placed.

“We also call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately relieve Amaechi of his post as Minister of Transport pending the conclusion of investigations  since he has  been named by some of the suspects  on the fake result sheets matter and also because of  his previous attempt to bribe justices of the Supreme Court to subvert the course of justice in petitions regarding the conduct of the Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers gubernatorial elections.

“Anything less will confirm long held fears in many quarters that President Muhammadu Buhari is himself complicit in these attempts to destroy democracy in Nigeria.

“ We must warn the APC, its leadership on their destructive tendencies and call on them  to preserve our democracy having fought for so long to attain the present democratic governance in Nigeria. We should rather improve on  the foundation of electoral processes  established by the PDP administration instead of working to destroy it.  Nigerians will not stand by and watch the APC destroy our democracy.

The leadership of the opposition party said that it is imperative to sound the warning that Nigerians will fight as hard as possible and as long as necessary to resist this evil that the APC is hell bent on establishing in our electoral system.

“The recent arrest of Mr. Atonyesia D. Peterside, a chieftain of the APC in Rivers State, by the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and the discovery of his printing press where result sheets and other electoral materials were being printed is evidence of our assertions that the APC has deployed resources to subvert the democratic process and democracy in Nigeria.

This discovery shows the desperation within the ranks of the  APC and the extents to which the party is willing to go to subvert the will of the Nigerian people. It also proves our assertions that the APC rigged the recent election in Edo State and is planning to rig the elections in Ondo and Rivers States.

“The current situation is a complete reversal of the electoral gains achieved by the previous administration of PDP and a return to the dark days of yore. The discovery also establishes the complicity of INEC as it is impossible for anyone to print result sheets with serial numbers that tally with the authentic result sheets without the involvement of INEC officials.

“It is very saddening that President Buhari watches as members of his party and his administration destroy and denigrate our democratic and electoral gains especially when one considers that these democratic and electoral gains made it possible for him to win elections and be sworn into office in the first place,” the party said.