By Akanimo Sampson
Ambassador Desmond Akawor, the Director-General of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council in Rivers State has alerted Nigerians and the international community of an alleged plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to violently prevent the general elections from holding in the state.
Akawor who was speaking in Port Harcourt, the state capital, said last January 23, some leaders of the APC addressed a world press conference wherein they issued a direct and specific public threat to the effect that:
…there will be no National Assembly, Governorship and state House of Assembly elections in Rivers until all the cases pending before various courts have gone to the apex court for final decisions…
According to him, this February 7, ‘’a senior chieftain of the APC Prince Tonye Princewill issued another threat on behalf of the APC asserting that the party will prevent the general elections from holding in Rivers.’’ Princewill claimed that it will be lawful to be lawless if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) failed to unlawfully include the APC and its candidates in Rivers on the ballot.
The APC chief had declared to Daily Post, there will be no elections in Rivers. With no reaction from the security agencies, ‘’Transportation Minister and Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, Chibuike Amaech,i yet again renewed the APC’s threat at its presidential campaign rally in Port Harcourt and arrogantly promised to deal with the Governor of Rivers and the PDP’’, Akawor said..
The rest of his testimony goes thus: ‘’While inciting his supporters with the bizarre Igbo war song: orule mgbe anyi gawa anya onye ujo abiala nge anyi na awa anya; meaning, it is time to go violent and anybody who is a coward should stay away from us even as the President Muhammadu Buhari watched helplessly.
‘’On Sunday, February 17, Princewill, reaffirmed the subsisting threat and plot of the APC to disrupt, cause havoc and prevent the general elections in Rivers. In his words: …I still see disaster come Saturday. Unless we’re on the ballot, the election won’t be smooth anywhere…
‘’Whilst the APC and its leaders continue to publicly declare their perverted intentions to take the laws into their hands and disrupt the general elections in Rivers State with maximum violence, neither the security agencies nor the Presidency have deemed it necessary to reprimand, investigate, caution and or arrest and prosecute the minister, Princewill and the leadership of the APC on the possible consequences of their outrageous and inciting utterances, threats and hate speeches to the peace, public order and security of lives and property in the state.
‘’Instead, we have started witnessing concerted efforts by the APC, INEC and the security agencies, especially the Nigerian Army and the Police to actualise both the intent and content of the dangerous agenda of the APC to truncate the electoral processes in the State, as we get closer to the election dates.
‘’For instance, on Friday, February 15, 24 hours to the now rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections, the APC-led Federal Government deployed full military arsenal to cordon off, overrun and prevent voters and normal residents from getting to the Local Government Areas of Akuku Toru, Andoni, Asari Toru, Bonny, Degema, Okrika and Opobo/Nkoro.
‘’Indeed, in Okrika Local Government Area, indigenes and residents were physically barred by masked gun-trotting soldiers from returning home as early as 6.00 p.m. that Friday on the directives of the General Officer Commanding the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Jamil Sarham. This is in spite of the fact that the restriction order on movement of persons by the Acting Inspector General Police was to take effect from 6.00 a.m. on February 16,
‘’Earlier on the same day, the said Major General Sarham sent military officers to the Central Bank Office, Port Harcourt to prevent INEC officials from distributing the available sensitive election materials to the 23 Local Government Areas of the state.
‘’We are also aware that the military has planned to cordon off collation centres across the state and prevent PDP agents’ access to these centres in order to rig the rescheduled elections on Saturday, February 23.
‘’Furthermore, information available to us indicates that APC has procured armed thugs, military uniforms and branded military and police vehicles for the purpose of rigging the rescheduled elections.
‘’It should therefore be noted that the partisan involvement and activities of Major General Sarham and his soldiers are contrary to the code of conduct for military officers issued by the Nigerian military high command as well as the INEC guidelines and international best practices.
‘’In the same vein, the APC has re-engaged the Commander of the Rivers State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Akin Victor Fakorede, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) with Force No: 41985, as its mercenary to actualise the party’s plan to either rig or prevent the peaceful conduct of the general elections in the state with impunity.
‘’Fakorede was indicted by INEC during the infamous Rivers State National and State Legislative Houses re-run elections for perpetuating electoral malpractices, undue interference and criminal abuse of his official calling as a security operative to advance the partisan interests of the APC.
‘’Fakorede was earlier deployed to Bornu State Police Command on election duties specifically, Bornu South Senatorial District, vide IGP’s deployment signal of February 11.
‘’True to character and in line with their defined strategies, Fakorede and his SARS team were seen arresting indiscriminately, supporters of the PDP in Khana, Gokana, Tai, Eleme and some other local government areas of the state on Friday, February 15, even when the elections had not commenced and without reasonable cause.
‘’Sadly, the said Major General Sarham in conjunction with Fakorede and SARS operatives have also been detailed to track, arrest and detain leaders of the PDP across the state from Thursday, February 21, until after the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 23, to actualise their plan to rig the elections in the state.
‘’We are aware that majority of the Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs) and Presiding Officers (POs) INEC has recruited are card-carrying members of the APC, who have been meticulously trained, directed and motivated to work with the security agencies to actualise its overarching desire to rig the Presidential elections, and thereafter prevent the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections from holding in the state.
‘’In Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area an APC stalwart and former Chairman of the Local Government, MacClean Uranta, has met with the SPOs that were posted to the area and struck a bargain to pay N500, 000.00 to each of them in return for their cooperation to deliver on the unholy election pact, the APC has extracted from INEC and security agencies.
‘’On February 18, a meeting was held at the Abuja residence of the minister with the Returning and Collation Officers coordinated by one Professor Owunari Georgewill who is an APC card-carrying member, and who has been tipped to become the next Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, promised to bring a new list to replace all Returning and Collation Officers the APC has indicated that they were not comfortable with.
‘’In that meeting with the minister, they resolved to effectively frustrate next Saturday’s elections in Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt, Khana, Gokana, Tai, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Etche, Abua/Odual and Akuku Toru Local Government Areas at all cost.
‘’Among all these sinister actions, the most worrisome is the directive given by the President to the military and the police to deal ruthlessly and where necessary, kill any person who they consider to be disturbing the voting process.
‘’With this Presidential Order therefore, the military and the police now have the motivation to use maximum violence to disrupt the voting process at will and even kill PDP supporters who try to resist or question the legitimacy of their unlawful activities at the polling stations.
‘’These actions by the APC, INEC, the security agencies and the Federal Government clearly point to the undisputable conclusion that the plot by the APC to scuttle the general elections in Rivers is real and must be taken seriously and prevented by all well-meaning Nigerians and the international community before it degenerates into major crisis.
‘’As a responsible party, we of the PDP are desirous of ensuring that the general elections are peaceful, orderly and credible in Rivers. No political party has worked as hard as the PDP for the general elections in the State.
‘’We are fully mobilised, ready and fired up with our teaming supporters for the general elections. Let no one therefore take our obedience to the rule of law and constitutionality in the pursuit of our democratic rights to vote and be voted for through the electoral process as an act of cowardice, acquiescence or capitulation to intimidation, lawless behavior and dictatorship. No one has the monopoly of violence.
‘’We have the capacity and the will to mobilise our teaming supporters to resist intimidation and defend the collective rights of our people in Rivers to effectively participate in the democratic process and frustrate those who are bent on denying our democratic rights, as expressly guaranteed by our constitution.
‘’As we conclude it is our solemn prayer to the Almighty God to guide aright, the thoughts and actions of the nation’s leaders and institutions, in the entire electoral process, which actions or lack thereof, are critical to the success of the general elections in Rivers.
‘’We also appreciate the patriotic members of the security agencies who are daily working hard under very difficult environment to ensure the protection of lives and property and guarantee the will of the people during the general elections in Rivers.
‘’We most sincerely thank the teaming supporters of the PDP across the length and breath of our dear state and Nigeria for their peaceful disposition, solidarity and comportment throughout the campaigns, which held without any crisis, casualties or unpleasant consequences.’’