The governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has advised security agencies to apply best practices while on election duty in the state.
“Security agencies, please perform your duties in line with the rules governing elections,” Mr Wike said on Monday during a town hall in Bori, Khana Local Government Area of the state. “Conserve your energy to fight Boko Haram and violent crimes.”
Mr Wike has been criticising security agencies in the state, accusing them of taking side against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the general elections.
His remarks at the town hall were posted on Twitter, through his account @GovWike.
“If they like, they should bring Police, Army and thugs from all over the world; we are quite confident that we shall smile on March 9, 2019. Come out and vote for people you can vouch for,” Governor Wike told the people who attended the town hall.
“Just be vigilant and protect your votes. We have no security with us, but we have the ‘Chief Security Officer of the world’ on our side,” the governor said.
The governor blamed the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the election violence in the state.
“Where are the children of the APC leaders preaching violence in Rivers State. Nobody in Rivers State ran for the post of President and Vice President on February 23, 2019, yet the APC visited deaths on Rivers people.
“APC fought themselves and pushed themselves out of the race. Now, they want to kill everyone in the state. What is the offence of Rivers people, that we must all die because the APC excluded themselves from the ballot?” the governor said.
The APC, in their response to Mr Wike’s remarks, said the governor should be held responsible for what was happening in the state.
“Wike is the merchant of violence,” the APC spokesperson in the state, Chris Finebone, told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday.
“Rivers State knew peace all through the time (Rotimi) Amaechi was governor. It was only when Wike came to power that all hell broke loose, and we have had this bad,” Mr Finebone said.
‘Cat and mouse game’
The relationship between the Rivers government and the security agencies have been on its lowest level since the inception of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government in 2015.
Rivers is under the control of the PDP, and Mr Wike, who is a critic of President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration, is one of the most influential leaders in the party.
The governor has often accused the police and the army in the state of planning to kill him. Both the police and the army has repeatedly denied such accusation.
The Nigerian army recently, in turn, accused Mr Wike of attempting to bribe a military chief, Jamil Sarham, a major general and the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 6 Division of the Nigerian army, because of the 2019 general elections.
The Rivers government responded by saying the military was trying to divert attention from the “atrocities they are committing in Rivers because of the elections”.