Tension Mounts, As Soldiers Invade Rivers’ Communities Ahead of Polls

Rivers State, a big oil and gas state in the Niger Delta and a major stronghold of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 1999, is currently a hot battle ground for President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) and their politically inspired armed security forces.

The unyielding PDP in Abua/Odual, Ahoada-East, Ahoada-West and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Areas of state have expressed serious concern about an alleged plan by the APC  to cause havoc and rig the general elections.

Leaders of the PDP in Orashi region claimed in a press briefing on Thursday that APC was working with their military wing to intimidate residents of the area to avoid coming out massively for this Saturday Presidential and National Assembly polls.

Spokesman for the troubled Rivers’ political bloc, Prof Kaniye Ebeku, said their people are insisting on credible elections free from military siege and obvious political bias.

According to them, the political soldiers of the APC have taken over their country homes, making alleged illegal arrests of PDP supporters.

Their testimony: ‘’We are drawing the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the undue militarisation and interference in the democratic process by agents of the Nigerian State in collusion with the APC to cause havoc, rig the elections and deny our people of their legitimate rights as constitutionally guaranteed.

‘’Such brazen action would certainly scuttle the rights of our people to freely and fairly elect their leaders on the 23rd of February and the 9th of March 2019.

‘’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, who was indicted by INEC during the infamous Rivers State National and State Legislative Houses re-run elections for perpetuating electoral malpractices, as its mercenary to actualise the party’s plan to either rig or prevent the peaceful conduct of the 2019 general elections in the state with impunity.

‘’Fakorede was earlier deployed to Bornu State Police Command on election duties; specifically, Bornu South Senatorial District, vide IGP’s deployment signal of 11th February 2019.

‘’He has been specifically re-deployed to Rivers to operate in conjunction with Major General Sarham and SARS operatives to track, arrest and detain leaders of the PDP across the state until after the Presidential and National Assembly elections in order to actualise their plan to rig the elections in the state.

‘’Already, over 53 men and women voters from Ndoni district in OgbajEgbemajNdoni LGA were arrested on February 15, 2019, just on account of their perceived sympathy for the PDP and remain in detention till date.

‘’Despite the non participation of the candidates of the APC in the elections, leaders of the APC have continued to make provocative threats to disrupt the electoral process.

‘’Despite the pronouncement of the Supreme Court on February 8, 2019 on the matter, Prince Tonye Princewill of the APC again on Sunday 17th February 2019 reaffirmed the subsisting threat and plot of the APC to disrupt, cause havoc and prevent the general elections in Rivers.

‘’Further to the threat by the APC chieftains that elections in Rivers will not be smooth and peaceful, the APC 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 23rd February 2019.

‘’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.

‘’Of all these sinister actions, the most alarming 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. The address of the Chief of Army Staff on 20th February, 2019 on the subject confirms our grave fears for the safety of our people during the elections.’’

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