- Probe Amaechi, security agencies, party tells Buhari
- Police blame disgruntled elements for violence, insecurity
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt, Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) tuesday announced more results from last Saturday’s rerun legislative elections in Rivers State.
In the results released, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, Hon. Awaji Abiante, was been declared winner.
INEC’s Returning Officer for Andoni/Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency, Professor Iheanacho Ekwuni, who announced the result, said Abiante scored 10,729 votes to defeat the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Dressman, who scored 7,366 votes.
Also, INEC yesterday declared the PDP candidate for Andoni Constituency in the state House of Assembly, Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Kobani, as the winner of the legislative rerun election in Andoni local government area of the state.
The Returning Officer, Professor Ofekwe, said Ibani scored 16, 234 votes to defeat his APC counterpart, Gilbert Sampson Egopp, who scored 16,134 votes.
With the new results, out of the five federal constituency results released, the APC has three seats while the PDP has won two seats. Also, of the seven state constituency results released, APC won in three while PDP won in four constituencies.
However, the Rivers State Commissioner for Urban Development, Hon. Chinyere Igwe, who was accused by the APC of having fake result sheets at the Rivers East Senatorial District Election Collation Centre at the Port Harcourt City Council, has denied involvement in any election malpractice.
Igwe, who served as PDP agent at the centre, said at a press conference at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre yesterday that he was abducted by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad on the directive of APC agent at the centre.
“Ordinarily, I shouldn’t be here but for the infantile outburst of Dakuku Peterside, who alleged that I, Chinyere Igwe, forged electoral materials. Unfortunately, Peterside was playing a script written and directed by Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi yesterday,” he said.
Recounting his experience, Igwe said: “While we were seated at the City Hall, Port Harcourt City Local Government secretariat, where INEC officials were about collating the result of Emohua Local Government Area, before the declaration of the results for Rivers East senatorial district, the script as written by Amaechi was playing out. Amaechi was at the other end of Moscow Road, closer to Produce House, because people saw him but we said he cannot come in here.
“Then, SARS came into the hall and the APC agent, Nnamdi Wuche, was directing. He pointed at my direction; look at him there, arrest him and take him away. I was between the devil and the deep blue sea.
“At the end of the day, they took me from SARS to the SCID and SCID investigated. They found out the election result copy that I had was correct both in signature and serial number with the result sheets INEC used to declare the results of the election.
“So, the question now becomes who is telling the truth? Is it Peterside and Amaechi that are deceiving Rivers people, Nigerians and the world at large or Chinyere Igwe who is committed to the dictates of democracy?”
When asked what should be done since both the PDP and the APC were disputing the results, Igwe, said as a lawyer, he believe calling for cancellation was defeatist.
“Aggrieved parties should take advantage of the provisions of the Electoral Act and go to the tribunal,” he said.
The leadership of the PDP, has demanded an investigation into the alleged malfeasance by some top government functionaries, security agents and some staff of the INEC during the just concluded re-run election in Rivers State.
The party which observed a minute silence in honour of those who lost their lives during the December 10 re-run legislative elections in Rivers state, before proceeding with a press conference, described the level of infractions by security agents and staff of the INEC as unprecedented.
The Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi who addressed a press conference yesterday in Abuja in company of other party leaders said the PDP is demanding that officials of the INEC who compromised their job, and aided in massively rigging the re-run elections must be brought to book by the commission.
Also, he he said men of the Nigerian Police Force, who were used to rigging the elections must be investigated, and possibly expelled from the Force by the Inspector General of Police, adding that similar sanctions should be meted out to the erring military and the DSS men.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, to immediately call his minister, Amaechi, and some other top functionaries of his government to order, to desist from further actions capable of truncating democracy in Nigeria. No group of persons must be seen to be above the laws of this country.
“Men of the Nigerian Police Force, especially the SARs, who were used to rig the elections must be investigated, and possibly expelled from the Force by the Inspector General of Police. Ditto for the military and the DSS,” he said.
Senator Makarfi who served as governor of Kaduna state for eight years said that the PDP-led administration had left behind a vastly improved electoral system such that INEC became truly independent in name and fact; “a process that the APC richly benefitted from in the 2015 general elections.
“Most tragically, Nigerians are confronted with inefficient, chaotic, violent and unsatisfactory electoral system, practices and environment since the inception of the current APC government on May 29, 2015.
“The governorship election in the single state of Kogi was declared inconclusive. The governorship election in the single state of Bayelsa was also declared inconclusive and had to be repeated after several postponements. The governorship election in Edo State was also postponed for inadequate preparation, threat of violence and the breakdown of law and order.
“When eventually the election was held it was marred by unspeakable level of violence perpetrated by members of the military, the police force and the DSS on behalf of the APC,” he said.
Likening the incidents during the Rivers poll to the mayhem in the 1964 election and the Western Regional election of 1965, Makarfi, said the Rivers re-run election witnessed the brazenly violent and uncouth behaviour of Nigerian soldiers, police officers and state security personnel who became overnight agents of the APC.
He said the state re-run elections have served as a test case on what to expect in the 2019 general election, adding that we must all be prepared to protect our votes and defend democracy in general .
“They snatched ballot papers at gunpoint, stuffed ballot papers at gun point, chased away PDP poll agents at gun point, barricaded collation centres and denied entry to critical stakeholders, including INEC officials at gun point and filled result sheets at gun point.
“We address you today because our hard-won democracy is under grave threat. This threat is conceived, planned and executed by some elements within the current APC-led governments at both national and state levels, that has unleashed its security apparatus on a rampaging exercise of electoral violence, acts of brigandage and a pervasive culture of impunity and arbitrary conducts witnessed during the Edo State governorship election and in the just concluded legislative re-run elections in Rivers State.
On the party’s position on the outcome of the Rivers re-run elections, Makarfi said the party would have won all the seats contested but for the schemes of enemies of democracy.
According to Makarfi, the PDP as a law abiding party would contest all outstanding issues in the tribunal and the court.
“We have extreme regard for the judiciary and believe that the court will do justice to all the issues,” he said.
In his remark, the Secretary of the Obi said that the reason the PDP has decided raise an alarm was to alert Nigerians and the international community on the ugly trend current playing where elections in the country have been rigged using officials of the electoral body and security agents as key tools.
Earlier while congratulating the the state governor, Nyesom Wike, and the people of Rivers State on the triumph of the party in the just concluded the state re-run elections, PDP’s spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye said that despite the federal might deployed to oppress them, the people have shown that their will cannot be defeated no matter the coercion.
“It is important to note once again that the South East senatorial district election purportedly won by Senator Magnus Abe still remains a farce and will be contested at the Tribunal. For the umpteenth time, we re-iterate that there was no election in that senatorial district, and the results concocted for Senator Abe was the handiwork of the army, the police and the Minister of Transport, Amaechi working in concert with the INEC.”
Meanwhile, the police yesterday blamed some disgruntled elements for causing violence and insecurity in the Rivers State rerun elections which held last weekend.
There were allegations that state security agents and paramilitary personnel were brazenly involved in malpractices during the election which was marred by violence and insecurity.
The police boss, yesterday admitted that the Nigeria Police Force, lost a DSP, Alkali Mohammed and his orderly in the course of the election on Saturday.
The Force spokesman, Mr. Don Awunah, in a statement made available to the media in Abuja, he said: “There is no doubt that some disgruntled elements in the state attempted to foist violence and insecurity on the populace that are generally peace loving.
“Undoubtedly, there were some infractions of law in the course of the elections where the police and other security agencies rose to the occasion and ensured the electoral process prevailed accordingly.”
Awunah, however said the IG, expressed satisfaction in the performance of the police officers deployed in the re-run elections.
The statement read: “The gruesome death of one of the officers, Alkali and others missing notwithstanding.
“The IG condoles with the family for this great loss and identify with the grief of his colleagues. To this end, a high powered investigation team has been directed to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of the officer and submit findings.”
According to the Force PRO, the gains of the security personnel’s performance in the Edo and Ondo elections, were further concretized in the Rivers re-run elections in the areas of massive deployment of logistics.
These proactive steps, coupled with stakeholders engagement, interagency collaboration led to peace and security in the state before, during and after elections, adding that the performance indicators are visible and verifiable.
He said: “Comparatively, the re-run election was a huge success in contrast to past elections in the state that were usually characterized by violence and wanton destruction of lives and property.
“The IG master plan on election security will continue to be improved upon for future elections in the county. This master plan will usher in credible, fair, free and acceptable elections in accordance with the principles of democratic policing and international best practices.
The statement debunked a report released by an NGO, CLEEN Foundation that the elections were “marred by irregularities, large scale violence, professional misconduct and open bias by security operatives and electoral personnel, adding that the report is lurid, fraught with inaccuracies and lacking in substance.
“It is a disservice to the evolving Nigerian democracy and sacrifice of the security personnel for the CLEEN Foundation report to assert that there were serious cases of electoral violence orchestrated by the Police, Army and DSS.
“It is also saddening for the CLEEN Foundation report to attribute the death of a police officer, Mohammed in the course of duty to what the report termed unwarranted use of force and shooting.”
Awunah, said CLEEN’s claim on the death of Mohammed is a brazen display of insensitivity to the fallen officer and disrespect to the family.