Rivers Rerun: APC Govs Donated N1bn Each to Rig Elections, Wike Alleges

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• Police parade suspects in possession of election materials, arms

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt and Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has alleged that some governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) donated N1 billion each to rig last Saturday’s rerun legislative elections in the state in favour of the APC.
He insisted that what he described as the brazen subversion of the democratic rights of Rivers people and the state-sponsored violence unleashed across the state during the December 10 rerun elections were carefully planned by some highly placed politicians and selected APC governors.

The governor said the violence unleashed and theft of the mandate of some constituencies by security agencies were bankrolled by the governors of Plateau, Benue, Kano and Bauchi States through the donation of N1 billion each by the said governors.

Addressing his people in a state broadcast yesterday, Wike said: “The brazen subversion of our democratic rights that took place on December 2016, was carefully planned and orchestrated by some highly-placed and desperate politicians from the state in concert with the governors of Bauchi, Benue, Kano and Plateau States, who reportedly bankrolled the plan with the sum of one billion naira each, at a time they cannot pay the salaries of civil servants, let alone embark on development projects in their states.

“If Rivers people could be visited with such a despicably high degree of violence, mayhem and killings by some renegade military and SARS operatives with impunity just to rescue the dying political fortunes of the APC in a mere legislative re-run elections, then we can now begin to imagine what is likely to happen in the state when the political stakes would be very much higher in 2019.”

He regretted the brazen manner that federal might was negatively used to ensure the return of APC candidates at all cost. He noted that the people of the state still needed to thank God because the negative outcome could have been worse.
The governor said the state government received credible information on the planned electoral theft and mass violence through the use of security agents, but all efforts to alert the nation were disregarded.

He pointed out that he hadbeen vindicated by the ugly incidents of December 10 where two senior policemen, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Steven Hasso and the Commander of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Chief Superintendent of Police, Akin Fakorede and other security operatives allegedly tormented Rivers people, killing many in the process.
He said: “They accused us of raising unnecessary alarms when we cried aloud over their devilish plans to use the federally-controlled SARS to disenfranchise our people and manipulate the re-run election process towards achieving some pre-arranged outcomes against the will of the people.

The governor added: “If Rivers people could be visited with such a despicably high degree of violence, mayhem and killings by some renegade military and SARS operatives with impunity just to rescue the dying political fortunes of the APC in a mere legislative re-run elections, then we can now begin to imagine what is likely to happen in the state when the political stakes would be very much higher in 2019.

“Nigeria often prides itself as a beacon of democracy and quickly congratulates other African countries for successful democratic elections and political transitions. Yet, the painful irony is that we are still unable to guarantee the minimum rights of our citizens to free, fair and credible electoral processes at home. What a shame!”
He thanked the people of the state for the courage they displayed in the face of state terror.

He sympathised with the families of those who lost their lives in the course of the rerun elections , praying God to grant them the strength to bear their loss.
Meanwhile, in the latest results released by the Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP won two additional House of Representatives seats while the APC won one additional state House of Assembly seat.

The PDP won the Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency where Randolph Brown polled 16,815 votes to beat Ayeatamah Pepple of the APC who got 4,073 votes.

Hon. Gogo Bright Tamuno of the PDP also got 11,668 votes to beat Hon. Maureen Tamuno of the APC who polled 5,995 votes in the Okrika/Ogu-Bolo Federal Constituency.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) yesterday paraded five suspects found with sensitive INEC materials, arms and ammunition with the intention of rigging and causing violence in the cause of the election.

Briefing the media at the Force Headquarters, in Abuja, the Force Public Relations Officer, Don Awunah, said the five suspects caught with the materials and arms were arrested from different parts of the state in their attempted to scuttle the election.
The suspects paraded included, Noble Nwaerema, Dike Deinpiribo, Valentine Alalibo.   Onwunari J. Warmate and  Iloke Stephen,
Awunah said the attempt by some major political gladiators in the state to foist violence and trigger an atmosphere of insecurity failed woefully.

According to him, the conduct of the election in terms of police performance was acknowledged by major stakeholders as distinctively professional and a well-organised election when compared with previous elections in the state which major hallmarks were violence, disruption of electoral process, wanton destruction of lives and property.

In the course of the re-run election, some suspects who attempted to scuttle the electoral process were arrested and sensitive INEC materials were recovered from them, arms and ammunition inclusive.

The exhibits recovered from the suspects include: “A green INEC branded bag, eight booklets of ballot papers meant for Emohua Local Government Area, one  booklet of INEC accreditation incident report forms, one booklet of statement of results, one blood stained APC agent ID card.”

While the arms and ammunition recovered from the suspects include: one AK47 rifle, one assault rifle, six magazines, 112 rounds of live ammunition
However, he said  some security personnel were arrested for professional misconduct, actions, inactions, omission and commission that were detrimental to the electoral process.

He said: “Some of them directly or indirectly connived with some politicians to scuttle the process. A high powered investigative panel is currently looking into this unacceptable professional misconduct.”