Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has called on Nigerians to insist on defending their votes despite the devices of security forces working with anti-democratic forces to manipulate elections.
He gave the charge at the funeral service in honour of a governorship election agent of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Ferry Gberegbe, who was allegedly murdered by FSARs Operatives at the Bori Collation Centre during the 2019 general election.
At the funeral service, Wike said Nigerians should not allow anti-democratic forces hijack the democratic process under any guise or under any influence in any part of the federation.
He said: “Dr Ferry Gberegbe did not die because of sickness. He did not die because he was doing something illegal. He died in defence of our votes. The only crime he committed was to defend our votes.
“It is only in this part of the country that you defend your votes and they say that you have committed an offence. Our friend and brother is gone, but he paid the price for democracy to survive in Nigeria.
“He paid for democracy to survive in Rivers State. As for those of us who have that spirit, he has laid the foundation for the defence of democracy,” Wike noted.
Wike revealed that from Information available to him, the anti-democratic forces were still plotting against Rivers State ahead of the 2023 elections. He said no matter the plot, Rivers State would continue to defend her votes.
He said: “I heard someone say two days ago, somebody in China told somebody in Port Harcourt that what happened in Imo State, that is what they will do in 2023.
“They said they would write results and the court will accept the results. Rivers State is a different state. If you write results, you face the consequences. I am not worried because these people are always boasting.
“In 2015, they said nobody would be governor. Somebody became governor. In 2019, we will see what will happen and you will not even see electoral material. But today we are governor.
“Now to give their people hope, they are talking of 2023. As a result of this young man, they will not see the Government House in 2023,” the Rivers governor said.
He assured the family of the deceased that he would stand with them.
He said: “This young man died for our own sake. For the wife and the family, while I remain the governor, I will continue to support you and the children.
“Even though we have taken care of the education of the children by what we have done, we will provide employment for the wife to sustain the family. There are people who must make sacrifices and we cannot allow them to make sacrifices without the required support.
“A young man like this came to defend the votes and then he is killed. Then you want me to stay in Government House and express my condolences. That will discourage others.
“I cannot abandon this family. We are not the kind of people who will abandon those who take risk in defence of democracy,” Wike said.
Former MOSOP President, Ledum Mitee described Dr Ferry Gberegbe as a man committed to the struggle for justice. He urged Nigerians to draw lessons from his upright life of sacrifice.
He said politics should not attract problems to the community. The former MOSOP President said that such evil should not be allowed to happen again in Ogoniland.
“I feel pained and not because I am speaking for a political party.. But I took a look at the tribute in this book and I feel touched by what I see as the symptoms of the division of politics. I expect to see people in all the political spectrum who will have their tributes in this book.”
In a sermon, the Bishop, Rivers Diocese of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, Rt Rev. Raphael Aju described the late Gberegbe as a forthright man who worked and contributed immensely in the service of God and humanity. He said he died for the truth.
Aju noted that nobody had right “to take the life of another, as God who is the author and giver of life,” urging Nigerians irrespective of political affiliation to always see themselves as brothers.
He stated that God knows the killer of the late Gberegbe, saying any man who had a hand in the death of the deceased would pay the price.
The bishop sued for an end to all the killings in the country while commending Wike for providing succour to the family of the deceased.