Rivers Before The Saturday Polls

Rivers State, a big oil state that is hosting the oil and gas capital of Nigeria, was on the boil before the Saturday Presidential and National Assembly elections. The power tussle between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not helping matters in the state. One of the contending parties appears to be quite desperate in foisting their hold on the state.

That seeming desperate bid does not appear to be going down well with some major stakeholders. The riverine Ijaw communities called on the international community to hold the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army,  Major General Jamil Sarham and the Commander State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Akin Victor Fakorede, an Assistant Commissioner of Police,  responsible for any violence  during the elections in the state.

In a press conference  in Port Harcourt, the state capital, Leader of the Riverine Ijaw Communities and former Deputy Governor of the state, Tele Ikuru, claimed that the  two security chiefs  were working with the  Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, to unleash violence  on the strategic oil state.

According to this Amaechi’s former deputy, ‘’confirmed reports also show that Sarham and Fakorede have penciled for arrest and detain the Council and Party  Chairmen of all the eight Local Government Councils and other principal PDP leaders in our communities until after the Presidential election.

‘’Fakorede is not new to playing such ignoble roles in Rivers elections. He did it in 2016 against the PDP during the National and state House of Assembly re-run elections and was accordingly indicted by INEC for his criminal actions. Fakorede who was posted along with others for election duties to Bornu State has now been surreptitiously returned to Rivers despite his infamous antecedent as an unrepentant election rigger.

‘’As the facts have shown Sarham and Fakorede are openly sympathetic to the APC and pathologically biased against the PDP. Indeed, we forced to conclude that they are card-carrying members of the APC and, therefore, are not and cannot be expected to be neutral in the discharge of election duties in which their party, the APC is directly involved.

‘’The fact that we are a peaceful people is not in doubt and we do not want anything to upset the prevailing peace and sense of security in our communities and local government areas. We are therefore happy with the promise by INEC to ensure that the 2019 general elections are peaceful, free, fair and credible.

‘’But it is becoming increasingly difficult for us or anybody else to believe that this promise would stand with the evolving partisan disposition and involvement of the military and the police in the administration of the elections in Rivers. We are constrained therefore to call on the international community, especially the United States, Britain and the European Union to bring to bear, maximum pressure on INEC and the Federal Government to allow peaceful, free, fair and credible elections in our communities.

‘’The APC-led Federal Government and INEC have repeatedly promised to ensure that these elections peaceful will be free, fair and credible. However, while we are committed to the success of these elections, some senior security officers, particularly, the above named duo are constituting serious stumbling block to the realization of this exercise in our riverine communities of Rivers.

‘’As security officers we expected Sarham and Fakorede to be neutral, honest and fair in the discharge of their election duties to the nation. This is not the case as both men have profoundly signed on to the evolving plan by the Amaechi-led APC to destabilize, rig and scuttle the peaceful conduct of the elections.’’

Similarly, chiefs, elders, opinion leaders and the entire people of Ogoni said their attention were drawn to the distribution of Toyota Hilux vans to SARS by the army chief in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of Rivers on February 22.

Those of Etche Ethnic Nationality also alerted the world of what they described as ‘’evil plan’’ by Amaechi to unleash mayhem on the people of Etche and Omuma Local Governments Areas. Addressing journalists on Thursday, Prince Emma Anyanwu, on behalf of people of the Etche people noted that Amaechi allegedly mobilised and armed some miscreants and armed to attack the innocent people of Etche.

Anyanwu accused Sarham and Fakorede of giving backing to Amaechi’s gang of murderous political thugs, claiming, reports reaching us indicate that Amaechi has mobilised some miscreants and armed them with dangerous weapons and ammunition to attack the innocent people of Etche ethnic nationality in Etche and Omuna Local Government Areas of the state.

According to him, ‘’the purpose of this press conference is to draw the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the plan by Amaechi to attack Etche and Omuma local governments areas and destroy the lives and property of innocent people. Amaechi’s gang of murderous political thugs are being supported by some treacherous military and police officers led by Sarham and Fakorede.’’

Anyanwu said  on February 12, during the APC Presidential Campaign rally in Port Harcourt  the minister allegedly threatened to unleash havoc on Rivers if INEC fails to unlawfully include the candidates of APC on the ballot box, adding that the alleged planned attack on the people of Etche was because the minister ‘’is vexed because of the unanimous endorsement of Governor Nyesom Wike by the people of Etche last December for a second term and having completely lost his electoral value for failure to manage his party internal crisis and denying APC from fielding candidates for the positions of Governor as well as the National and state House of Assembly elections.

‘’The sole reason for this planned attack on our people is the fact that he has completely lost whatever electoral value left that he had with the failure of his party, the APC to field candidates for the elections in Rivers. Having become politically irrelevant to the electorate of Rivers, Amaechi feels deflated, frustrated and furious because the entire Etche ethnic nation for unanimously endorsing Governor Wike for second term.

‘’We reaffirm our subsisting endorsement of Governor Wike who has done tremendously well for our people, especially with his ambitious and unrivalled infrastructural development projects.’’

Secretary of the Ogoni Ethnic Nationality,  Dr. Baribe Yorko, in a statement said, ‘’the Ogoni elders and chiefs gathered that the SARS commander has given specific instructions to his boys to go on rampage in some villages in Ogoni, and do everything possible to disrupt the elections, hijack materials and kill anyone who confronts them.

‘’In Tai, Tai Local Government Area, the SARS commander led his men to attack innocent women and youths in the area. In the light of this, we are warning Amaechi, Chief Victor Giadom and Dr. Dakuku Peterside, behind this evil plot, of the consequences of any trouble that happens in Ogoniland. If anybody is wounded, maimed or killed or any disruption of the elections in the Ogoni area, as a result of this evil plots, we will not only hold Amaechi, Giadom and Peterside responsible, we will declare them persona non grata in Ogoniland.’’

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