Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Fear that the army may be working against some political parties in the governorship and state assembly elections in Rivers State were highlighted Saturday as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) complained that the military was preventing its accredited agents from accessing the collation centres.
Army personnel took over the collation centres in Asari-Toru, Akuku-Toru, Eleme, Opobo-Nkoro and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas, among others, denying access to PDP INEC-accredited Agents.
A chieftain of the PDP in Okrika, who would not wish to be named for fear of victimisation, told THISDAY that there were fears that the situation in Okrika might snowball into major crisis if nothing was done.
He said, “Unfortunately the army has taken over the LGA collation centre and are refusing any collation! The situation here is very explosive! I fear what may happen in the next hour or two. The people are determined to resist! Tempers on all sides are seriously frayed! I fear the loss of lives!”
Also, media aide to state Chairman of the PDP, Jerry Needam, said soldiers forcefully invaded the Khana Local Government Council lodge and held all those inside hostage.
He alleged that the soldiers were trying to plant incriminating materials in order to arrest PDP chieftains especially the Local Government Council Chairman, Lahteh Loolo.
He also said the soldiers were planning to move into the collation centre in Bori and hijack materials there.
The spokesman of PDP Campaign Organisation and state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Emma Okah, said it was obvious the army was on a mission to disrupt the electoral process and install somebody.
He wondered why soldiers would single out agents of the PDP for victimisation and why INEC-accredited agents would be barred from collation centre.
“Obviously they are up to something but God will not allow them succeed,” he said.
He said while the party was sceptical on sending protests to the same people who are perpetrating the injustice, the PDP would react accordingly.
When contacted for his reactions, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, said the army would investigate alleged infractions of soldiers in the elections.
He however refused to comment on allegations of soldiers barring PDP agents from collation centres.