Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has stated that the State Government has intelligence that a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC ) has armed political thugs to disrupt the June 16, Local Government elections in the state.
Governor Wike, in a state broadcast, yesterday, said that the APC faction planned to disrupt the elections in Abua/Odual, Akuku Toru, Asari Toru, Degema, Emohua, Ikwerre, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Opobo and Tai Local Government Areas.
He said: “The arrowheads of this satanic plot, the State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, the former Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr. Emmanuel Chinda and the current Nigeria’s Ambassador to Netherlands, Ambassador Oji Ngofa, are recruiting and arming political thugs with guns to be deployed on the eve of the election to create an atmosphere of insecurity create in these and other local government areas and scare voters to shun the polling stations”.
The governor stated that the APC chairman has murder charges against him, adding that the chairman has refused to submit himself to trial.
“Yet, this fugitive to justice recently emerged as a factional State chairman of his party against a court order and is now emboldened by the protection he is getting from the Police and the Federal Government to engage in subversive activities against the interest and people of Rivers State.
“In the light of the these dangerous threats from Ojukaye and co-travellers therefore, I wish to call on the security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police, to live up to their primary responsibility of providing adequate security for the election and deal decisively with those, who may attempt to disturb the peace, order and security of the State before, during and after the election”, Governor Wike stressed.
He said that the State Government has received concrete assurances from the heads of all the security agencies that they have put adequate measures to secure the peace and ensure orderly conduct of the election .
The governor noted that Rivers Government would hold the security agencies professionally accountable should insecurity be experienced in the State in the course of the elections .
He said: “Community leaders and members of the public should be on the watch out and report suspicious characters and movements in their localities and neighbourhoods to the law enforcement agencies for immediate action.
“Also, the security agencies have definite instructions to strictly enforce the restrictions on human and vehicular movement on election day and arrest any person or group of persons that violate this order.
“All those, who have no official business with conducting the election should, therefore, stay away from the polling units after casting their votes or risk arrest and prosecution”.
The governor stated that there is no legal stopping the conduct of the June 16, 2018 Local Government elections.
He said: “As things stand now, we have no other choice, but to conduct the local government election and allow democracy to settle and thrive once again at the grassroots and drive the development of our communities”.
Governor Wike added: “I can confirm to you that the election will take place as scheduled in all the 4,442 units, 319 wards and 23 local government areas of the State, as there is no legal obstacle significant enough to warrant otherwise.
“Let me, therefore, appeal to all registered voters to turn out in their numbers to vote for the candidates of their choice. This is a civic responsibility you must exercise in order to rekindle the touch of democracy, good governance and accountability in the local government system.
“I am very pleased with the information that 67 out of the 68 registered political parties have fielded candidates for the elections and are, therefore, participating”, he said.
He expressed happiness with the assurances from Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RSIEC) that it is ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections on Saturday.
“For us, this is an irreducible minimum and we demand nothing less as, Government will hold the Commission strictly accountable for any acts or omissions that compromise the integrity of both the process and the elections”, he said
The governor explained the reason behind the delay in the conduct of the State local government elections.
“After three years of legal vacillation, it is now clear that the subject matter or fundamental interest of the claimants in that case has practically been wasted by effluxion of time and whatever remedies derivable by the parties, if any, can only be nominal.
” While the legal challenge continues, the people of Rivers State are denied their rights to freely elect officers to run the councils democratically. However, as things stand now, we have no other choice, but to conduct the local government election and allow democracy to settle and thrive once again at the grassroots and drive the development of our communities”, he said.
In a swift reaction, APC, through its State Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, has debunked the allegation by the governor.
Finebone stated: “It is absolutely important to quickly mention that the APC, its leaders and members across Rivers State, have no stake in the sham local council elections and have no reason at all to consider or disrupt a process we have clearly distanced ourselves from and made such position known to the world”.