The All Progressives Congress has alleged that security agencies and some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Rivers state are colluding with the Peoples Democratic Party to rig the forthcoming governorship elections and also kill its members and supporters in the state.
The APC spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, who addressed a press conference Monday in Abuja said the PDP and its governorship candidate, Nyesom Wike, aided by the security agencies, have continued to kill and maim members and supporters of the APC.
“Though this marauding started before the March 28th Presidential and National Assembly elections, it has become progressively worse as the Governorship elections approach on Saturday, April 11,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed stated that nine members of the party were killed in cold blood last week, while many others were injured when armed PDP thugs invaded Obrikom and Obor communities in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government of Rivers state.
He said the thugs also set ablaze the residence of Vincent Ogbagu, the party’s candidate for the House of Assembly elections in the constituency.
Mr. Mohammed added that dozens of APC members have been arrested on frivolous charges, just to put them away before the election.
He also said at least four persons were arrested just because they defected to the party.
“APC members have been subjected to persistent harassment and intimidation across the state, using the Police in Rivers and the Zone 6 in Calabar. Over 150 prominent members have been victims of this unprovoked persecution,” he said.
The APC spokesperson said the party even received another sad news from Rivers Monday, to the effect that a chieftain of the party, Christopher Adube, was reportedly shot dead over the weekend.
“Adube, who hails from the Egbema Local Government Area, was said to have been shot dead at his residence,” he said.
Role of security agencies
Mr. Mohammed said the terrorizing of APC members and supporters in Rivers State has been carried out despite the presence of the police and other security agencies in the state.
He alleged that most of the attacks were carried out with the collusion of the security agencies, who have “exchanged the garb of partisanship for that of professionalism”.
“Elements of the security agencies have also participated directly in the targeted harassment and intimidation of our members. Even when our members have run to the police for succour, they have found none.
“The case of the Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the Gokana Local Government Area, Mr. Kadilo Kabari, was particularly astonishing. He and Senator Magnus Abe, who represents Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, were attacked by PDP thugs right inside the Divisional Police Headquarters at Kpor,” he said
Mr. Mohammed said the two party chieftains were attacked because they dared to challenge PDP thugs, dressed in INEC kits, who were engaged in massive rigging during last week’s Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.
“That these PDP thugs could use a police station for rigging speaks volumes about the role of the security agencies in that election,” he said.
Role of INEC
APC said the violence targeted at its members in Rivers, especially during the last elections, was carried out in the full glare, and in most cases with the connivance of INEC officials in the state.
“Of course, it is needless to say that the collusion of INEC with the PDP and the police to pave the way for unbridled violence against APC members and supporters, and the subsequent rigging of the elections, was spearheaded by the Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Rivers, Ms. Gesilia Khan.
“This issue is already the subject of a very strong petition which our party has written to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja,” he said.
The APC spokesperson said the party decided to give the details of the relentless “killing, maiming, harassment and intimidation” of its members and supporters in Rivers State before, during and after the Presidential and National Assembly elections so that Nigerians can see that everything has been done, and is still being done, to make sure that free, fair and peaceful elections do not hold in the state
“We are very concerned that the prevailing atmosphere of mindless violence and brigandage does not augur well for a free, fair and credible elections in the state.
“We are worried that no one has been held responsible even where our members have been killed, and that the police and other security agencies, as well as INEC, have turned themselves to appendages of the PDP, in what is nothing but the height of impunity.
“We are therefore using this opportunity to call on local and international observers, as well as the Civil Society Organizations under the aegis of The Situation Room, to pay a close attention to Rivers State – as well as other states considered to be flash points – during the forthcoming Governorship and House of Assembly elections,” it said.
APC called on its members and supporters in Rivers State to continue to conduct themselves peacefully, while making sure they document every case of killing, maiming, harassment and intimidation targeted at them, as well as all instances of election malpractice.
“In the fullness of time, no one who has engaged in this untoward actions will go scot-free as they will be made to face the full wrath of the law,” the party said.