Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
A former senator from Rivers State, Magnus Abe, has accused the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, of furthering an agenda of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through a committee hearing investigating the circumstances that led to the killing of 34 persons in February 2016, in the state.
He therefore disclosed his intention not to honour the invitation of the House Committee on Army, which continued on Monday.
This is as the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) called on the House to caution the Nigerian military against harassment and brutalisation of civilians ahead of the December 10, 2016 re-run election into National and State Assembly seats in Rivers State.
Abe who is contesting for a seat in the Senate in the rerun polls, accused the PDP of using the National Assembly to tilt the political scales in its favour in Rivers State, even though it is the minority party.
In a strongly worded letter addressed to Dogara, Abe said the petition which informed the hearing, was an attempt by the PDP to influence public opinion in order to secure undue advantage in the upcoming rerun elections.
“Thus far, actions of the House of Representatives are tailored towards achieving a clear political advantage for the Peoples Democratic Party…This latest hearing instituted by your office is just another desperate attempt to embarrass the Nigerian Army in furtherance of the PDP agenda. If that were not the case, what is the point of inviting me and Hon. Barinaadaa Mpigi, the APC candidates in the rerun elections. Are we soldiers? The Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State has already instituted a narrative to link the APC to the activities of soldiers and you have now been recruited to provide the visual images for the PDP campaign in Rivers State,” the letter read.
Abe described the hearing as an abuse of the powers of the House, adding that it becomes more painful as Dogara was elected on the platform of the APC, but has not given attention to petitions by APC members to his office.
“…but every action of the House of Representatives as announced by Governor Nyesom Wike is implemented to the letter. For the first time in the history of our country, members of the house of assembly elected on the platform of a political party are denied the right to participate in the affairs of the Rivers State House of assembly. Their constituencies are denied representation simply because they voted for APC. This has elicited no response whatsoever from your office.
Painfully, hundreds of innocent Nigerians are being murdered every day by the PDP army in a sponsored orgy of violence against the APC members and supporters in Rivers State with no comment by the House or the speaker. Yet committees of the House of Representatives at your instance are always in Rivers State to do the bidding of Governor Wike and the PDP,” it read further.
Meanwhile, representatives of the CLO (South-south) at the House of Representatives Committee on Army at the investigative hearing on Monday, accused the military of hiding under the guise of searching for armed militants, to intimidate the people of the State, ahead of any elections.
The Chairman of the CLO (South-South), Mr. Chinedu Karl Uchegbu in his submission to the committee, said the Army had invaded Yeghe Community in Ogoni on February 23-24, 2016, under the pretext of looking for Mr. Solomon Ndigbara, who was accused of gun-running.
“We are not talking about the criminality, rather the mode of operation of the army,” he said while flanked by alleged relatives of the 34 dead victims.
Uchegbu told the Hon. Rima Shawulu led committee that several people who have testified before the committee, and before a similar committee by the Rivers State House of Assembly, have been harassed or threatened by the military and the Department of State Security (DSS).
He alleged that the traditional ruler of Yeghe community, in Ogoni, Chief Gbarane, who had testified before the House of Representatives committee in March 2016, was abducted by the military and detained for two months.
“The paramount ruler has fled the community and is currently in exile,” Uchegbu said.