- Police withdraw CSO from governor, Fayose condemns action
- Amaechi urges law enforcement agencies to deal with trouble makers
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
As the December 10 date for the rerun of federal and state legislative elections in Rivers State looms, the state government has expressed concern that Governor Nyesom Wike might have been earmarked for assassination following the sudden removal of his chief security officer (CSO).
This came as the state police command also announced the withdrawal of police orderlies from all political office holders in the state during the rerun polls.
Wike has also accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of overheating the polity by what he claimed were the commission’s actions that portrayed it as working for specific political interests.
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr. Austin Tam-George, said the sudden withdrawal of Wike’s CSO yesterday came in the aftermath of the governor’s interview on Channels Television on the same day.
Tam-George said in the interview, the governor had blamed the security agencies for launching a campaign of persecution against officials of the state government.
“We are concerned that the governor of a state will not be consulted before the removal of his Chief Security Officer. This is an ominous sign that the governor’s life is in great danger,” he stated.
He called on the international community not to turn a blind eye on what is happening in Rivers State, as it portends great danger to the survival of democracy in the country.
The commissioner warned that the Rivers people would not sit idly by and watch security agencies perpetrate unlawful acts in a state that is known for her peaceful disposition.
Tam-George restated Wike’s directive to all government officials to resist any politically motivated arrests throughout the period of the electoral process leading up to the rerun elections on December 10.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Police Command and INEC have declared their preparedness for the rerun elections.
The police and INEC stated this yesterday during their meeting with other security agencies and political parties, as well as candidates in the forthcoming rerun polls in the state.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Francis Odesanya, while addressing stakeholders yesterday at the Police Officers’ Mess, Port Harcourt, stated that security presence in the state would not give room for political thugs to carry out their nefarious activities.
He said the command would withdraw police orderlies attached to politicians in the state during the exercise, stressing that the force would not allow any police officer to go close to the polling unit with guns and ammunition.
He assured the stakeholders that the police would remain unbiased in providing an equal playing field for all the political parties in the exercise,
warning that the law would deal with perpetrators of violence during the elections.
Odesanya declared: “Police will be deployed massively; the whole state would be very, very covered. If you have in mind to sew materials for political thugs, we will take you by surprise.”
INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Aniedi Ikoiwak, while addressing the stakeholders, stated that the commission would commence the distribution of sensitive materials for the elections on Thursday, after retrieving them from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Port Harcourt on the same day.
He urged Rivers people, candidates and political parties to make Saturday’s rerun elections the last in the interest of society.
He disclosed that the commission had concluded the training of ad hoc staff to be used for the elections, adding that members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) would serve as presiding officers in the elections.
Ikoiwak said: “We have concluded the training of ad hoc staff to be used for the elections, apart from the collation officers to be used. Politicians have combed all the universities in the country to find out who the collation officers are.”
Also, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, warned that the law enforcement agencies would deal decisively with those found to be in violation of the Electoral Act during the rerun elections.
Speaking during the Freedom thanksgiving service held in honour of Hon. Ojukaye Flag Amachree at Buguma town in Asari Toru Local Government Area, the minister who was represented by Senator Magnus Abe, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Rivers South East Senatorial District in the legislative rerun elections, said he was aware of threats by some people to deal with electoral officials and intimidate members of the public from engaging in their civic duties.
He said the law enforcement agents would deal with anybody who foments trouble.
He cautioned some law enforcement agents who would allow themselves to be induced financially, pointing out that such officers were enemies of the Nigerian state and the constitution.
“Any policeman who refuses to carry out his constitutional duties because of anything whatsoever, whether by inducement or threat, is a traitor to the constitution of Nigeria.
“It is the job of the law enforcement agents to arrest those who do not respect the law. So, no governor can give you immunity from arrest. Let (Governor Nyesom) Wike send his own brothers to go to the road, break the law and when the police come to arrest them, let them resist arrest.
“When he has done that then we will know that he has the power to stop the police from arresting criminals when they break the law. People who break the law before, during and after the election will be arrested. People who are members of PDP, APC and they break the law will be arrested,” he said.
On his part, Wike has accused INEC of overheating the polity ahead of the rerun elections by its actions, which he said do not inspire the confidence in stakeholders in the state.
The governor also reaffirmed his statement that the security agencies operating in the state were planning to assassinate him.
Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily monday, Wike said several actions of the electoral body showed that it was working for specific political interests and a political party.
He said all his public statements against INEC and the police were backed by incontrovertible facts and intelligence in his possession.
He said aside from the weak press statements, INEC and the police had failed to deny these weighty allegations.
He said that during the March 19 rerun elections in Rivers State, INEC suspended elections in eight local government areas including Tai Local Government Area, only for the same INEC to wake up four months later to concoct results in favour of the APC.
The governor pointed out that INEC did not list Tai Local Government Area as one of the areas where rerun elections would be held, noting that such action was unbecoming.
Fayose Condemns Removal of CSO
Reacting monday to the withdrawal of Wike’s CSO, Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, condemned the action less than five days to the state’s legislative rerun elections, saying: “With this ignoble action by the federal government, it is now clear that the federal government is out to subvert the will of the people of Rivers State by whatever means in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
Fayose, who alerted the international community of the imminent danger being posed to Nigeria by the APC-led federal government, added: “Nigeria deserves total attention from the international community at this time. The international community should not look the other way while those holding power in Abuja plunge the country into crisis of international magnitude.
The governor’s media aide, Mr. Lere Olayinka, quoted the governor as saying that it was getting clearer that Wike was right when he claimed that there was a plot to assassinate him before Saturday’s polls.
The governor said President Muhammadu Buhari should be reminded that he swore to protect all Nigerians, irrespective of the party they belong to.
He asked: “How can anyone tamper with the security aides of a state governor without his consent? How can the chief security officer of a state governor be changed without the consent of the governor?
“Isn’t it now clear that they actually want to kill Governor Wike before the Saturday elections?”
Fayose, who said all steps being taken by the federal government were geared towards turning Nigeria to a one party state, warned that “Nigeria can never be turned to a one party state and if care is not taken, by the time this house of democracy is destroyed by the APC cabal, no one will be spared”.
He said those trying to impose their will on the people by whatever means must learn from history, especially what happened in Nigeria between 1979 and 1983 and where it led Nigeria to.