Security Personnel Attempt to Disrupt Rivers Senatorial Results Announcement

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  • PDP wins two, APC one as both parties reject results
  • Wike: Federal might will not work in 2019
  • Makarfi, Sheriff trade words over mega party

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The anarchy in Rivers State arising from the violent rerun elections held in the state on Saturday, took a turn for the worse yesterday when some security operatives made up of soldiers and policemen in Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) uniforms stormed the Port Harcourt City Hall collation centre and tried to disrupt the declaration of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC yesterday had announced the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates – Senator George Sekibo and Mr. Osinachukwu Ideozu – winners of the senatorial rerun elections in Rivers East and Rivers West Senatorial Districts, respectively.

This was after the commission had declared Senator Magnus Abe as the winner of the Rivers South East Senatorial District election on Sunday.

However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state kicked against the results that showed PDP had won two of the senatorial seats, saying it would contest them as it was not done in accordance with the law.

Declaring the results at the collation centre, the Returning Officer for Rivers East, Prof. Orji Okumenkama, said Sekibo scored 93,098 votes to defeat the candidate of the APC, Chief Andrew Uchendu, who scored 34,193 votes.

The Returning Officer for the Rivers West Senatorial District, Prof Raphael Ndubuisi Echebiri, also declared that Ideozu of the PDP had polled 107,166 votes to defeat APC’s Otelemaba Amachree who scored 46,898 votes.

The announcement of the results, however, did not come without drama, as some security operatives made up of soldiers and policemen in SARS uniforms stormed the Port Harcourt City Hall collation centre and tried to disrupt the process.

However, as more people were attracted to the melee that ensued at the city hall, the security operatives shot sporadically into the air to scare the people and made their exit.

In the ensuing confusion, an INEC election officer, Mary Tokoyo, was manhandled.

“They (security operatives) hit me with a chair, they slapped me. I was molested,” she told journalists as she was taken to the hospital for medical attention.

The state governor, Nyesom Wike, was among those who rushed to the collation centre, as the security operatives invaded the centre.

Addressing supporters shortly after the announcement of the results, Sekibo dedicated his victory to “the resilience of the Rivers governor and the people”.

“I dedicate this victory to all the people of the Rivers East Senatorial District and indeed the entire people of the state. If not for their commitment and that they came out to support democracy, I believe that the hell-raiders would have taken away our mandate,” he said.

He also promised to pursue electoral reforms when he rejoins his colleagues at the Senate.

Also addressing the crowd at the city hall, Wike said the overbearing federal might which he said was on display before, during and after the rerun polls in the state, would not be allowed to happen in any other election in Rivers State, as the people had been taught how to prepare for elections.

He also threatened to withdraw logistics support to security agencies in the state in response to their activities during the elections.

Wike said: “I thank God for the strength and courage he has given to us in this election. We have really sacrificed. I know that freedom comes with sacrifice.

“Rivers people were murdered for just simple legislative elections. The federal government came with their might to conquer Rivers State, just because they wanted to win. They killed people because they want the state.

“The blood of those people they killed will be on their heads. States that cannot pay their workers salary and cannot carry out meaningful projects brought money to rig the elections in this state.

“They should be ashamed because they won one senatorial seat but we won two of the senatorial seats. They fought but God said, no way, do not be intimidated. This will never happen in 2019.

“They have shown us that there is no democracy in Nigeria, if not why don’t they conduct elections the way they have been done in other countries.”

In his reaction to the results released yesterday, APC gubernatorial candidate in the 2015 election and Director General of the National Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the party would not accept the results, alleging that some local government areas were not collated.

Addressing journalists at the APC state secretariat, Peterside said: “We want to quickly give you a few important developments that happened today so that Rivers people and Nigerians will know what is happening in the state.

“This morning by 9:00 hours, Chinyere Igwe, a member of the Rivers State Executive Council, who is not an INEC official was caught with original pre-filled senatorial results for Emohua Local Government Area. The police have since arrested him.

“As I speak, Chinyere Igwe is still with the police and those pre-filled result sheets by members of the PDP are with the police. We have also been briefed by our representatives that they have gone ahead to collate senatorial results without the result of Emohua, which is the local government of our senatorial candidate.

“Meanwhile, there was a proper election in Emohua and credible results where APC emerged victorious. However, because, they could not bring in their fake result sheets, the result they filled outside the purview of INEC, they have gone ahead to declare a few other results.”

When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni (DSP), expressed ignorance over the arrest of Igwe.

He said he was not aware that the commissioner was arrested for any election malpractice.

Other results declared by INEC showed that the PDP’s candidate, Boma Goodhead, won federal constituency seat in Akukutoru/Asaritoru, Tai Barinada of the APC won the Tai/Eleme/Oyigbo federal constituency, Pronen Maurice of APC won the Khana/Gokana federal constituency, while Wihioka Chidi Frank of APC won the Ikwerre/Emohua federal constituency.

Also, Tekena Wellington of the PDP won the Asaritoru I state constituency, Enemi Alabo George of the PDP won Asaritory II state constituency, Blessing Pepple of the PDP won Bonny state constituency, Josiah John Olu of the APC won Eleme state constituency, Friday Nubari Nkeye of APC won Khana II state constituency, and Nwanjoku Chikre Azubuike of APC won the Ikwerre state constituency.

After the results were announced, INEC confirmed the conclusion of the senatorial elections in Rivers State.

Briefing journalists at the state headquarters in Port Harcourt last night, INEC’s National Commissioner in charge of the South-south Zone, Dr. Lecki Mustapha, said: “At the senatorial district level, we have three seats that were contested and all three seat have been returned. Nothing is outstanding as far as the senatorial elections are concerned.

“With regards to federal constituencies, we have eight federal constituency seats that were contested. Of this eight, four have been declared and four are outstanding. The four outstanding are Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro, Bonny/ Degema, Etche/Omuma and Okrika/Ogu/Bolo.

“As far as the state constituencies are concerned, we have nine state House of Assembly positions that were contested. Six out of these nine have been declared, three are outstanding comprising Andoni, Etche II and Gokana.”

On the Etche state constituency election, Mustapha added: “We had a lot of difficulties in Etche arising from violence, ballot snatching, attack on INEC officials and all these things affected the character of the election.

“As a result, we were not able to conclude the outstanding rerun election in Etche, pending further announcement from INEC.”

He also said: “As regards Andoni, which is also outstanding, we had a lot of difficulties due to violence. We went back there several times and up till this moment, after a meeting with Andoni stakeholders, we have agreed that we can reset the collation.

“So as we speak, the collation from the ward level up to the LGA level, which will result in the announcement at the state constituency level, we believe that before tomorrow morning that will be concluded and we will have a declaration for Andoni as far as the state constituency and federal constituency are concerned.”

PDP Rejects Senator Abe’s Victory

But in its reaction to the results declared by INEC, the PDP yesterday rejected the victory of Senator Magnus Abe in Rivers South East Senatorial District and accused the commission of using fabricated results to arrive at its decision.

The PDP also demanded that the commission should conduct another election in the senatorial district and condemned the continued delay by INEC in releasing the remaining collated results of the rerun elections.

A statement issued by the party’s spokesman, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, accused INEC of withholding the results in collaboration with the security agencies to pave the way for the APC to manipulate the outcome of the elections.

“The result that has been released which declared Magnus Abe of the APC winner, is an unprecedented massive manipulation of the electoral process, in active connivance with the security agencies.

“The whole world knows that elections did not take place in the Rivers South East Senatorial District.

“We therefore reject the declaration of Magnus Abe with the fabricated results, and demand INEC to conduct another election in that district. We promise to avail ourselves of every opportunity to seek redress on this matter in the interest of democracy and that of the constituents who were denied their right to vote,” it said.

While expressing dismay at the continued delay of the remaining results by INEC, PDP asked the commission to immediately release the affected results intact.

“Anything short of this is unacceptable and INEC, the security agencies and the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, should be held responsible for whatever manner the people of Rivers State decide to react for robbing them of their votes.

“We again condemn in totality, the adverse role of the Nigerian Army, the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other security agencies during this rerun elections in Rivers State.

“It was a nightmare and a complete reversal of their constitutional mandates of safeguarding the territorial integrity of the country and the protection of lives and properties.

“There is incontrovertible evidence that the security agencies worked for the APC against the interest of the Rivers people. They followed the directives of the APC chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun and Governor Ibrahim Ganduje of Kano State during the mega rally of the APC last week.

“They killed, they maimed, they harassed, all in a desperate bid to help the APC win at all cost. Very sad!

“It is trite that the army dishonourably left its primary assignment and worked assiduously with INEC, in collusion with the APC leaders in Rivers State led by the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, and mindlessly wrote the results that produced Senator Magnus Abe in Rivers South East Senatorial District. This action depicts a sheer rape on democracy,” the party said.

In addition, the PDP’s factional leaders engaged each other in verbal attacks yesterday over moves to realign with other political groups ahead of the 2019 general election.

The spokesman of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP, Mr. Adeyeye, said in a statement that Sheriff and his co-travellers were agents of the APC working to destabilise the PDP.

“We maintain that these people are agents of the APC. They are paid agents of the ruling party to destabilise our great party. It is evident that they are all profiting from the crisis.

“We are concerned about the massive rigging of the elections in Rivers State by the APC. These agents of the devil are careless. If they are true members of the party, will they be gloating over the open robbery of our party in Edo, Ondo and now Rivers?” he asked.

Adeyeye described the latest outburst from the Sheriff-led faction of the PDP as “acting on the prompting of its sponsors who want to use the faction to divert attention from the electoral heist in Rivers State”.

The statement said: “Note that Sherriff and his cohorts have never for once spoken for the party against the APC. Nor have they at anytime defended the interest of the party in any way.

“All they have always done is to constitute a source of distraction, nuisance and irritation for us at very critical times.”

But the Deputy Chairman of the Sheriff faction, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, issued a counter statement, accusing Makarfi and the National Caretaker Committee that he chairs of a plan to drag the PDP into an alliance with other political groups.

“Senator Makarfi, in an interview, claimed that Ali Modu Sheriff in planning a one-party state in Nigeria. That is the same Ali Modu Sheriff that three governors claimed wanted to contest for the post of president in the PDP.

“Fellow Nigerians, party faithful, the illegal caretaker committee has now transcended from impunity to blackmail. There is nothing they will not say or do to lay claims to the headship of our dear PDP which they plan to annihilate.

“It is interesting to note that the Board of Trustees of the party has stated that the party will not change its name or join a mega party. Makarfi and his illegal caretaker committee is free to form their own party. They should kindly exit the party with their impunity and corruption,” he said.