Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that the negative role played by the Nigerian Army during the 2019 general elections is the worst in the history of the country.
Governor Wike formally requested for the redeployment of the General Officer Commanding ( GOC) 6 Division, Major General Jamil Sarhem for allegedly subverting the general elections in Rivers State .
The governor spoke on Friday when he granted audience to the Nigerian Army Investigative Committee on Electoral Violence during the 2019 polls at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
He said: “Throughout my experience politically, I have never seen the Nigerian Army play the kind of role they played during the last general elections. The Nigerian Army purely made political interferences all through. We will show you the visuals of the roles played by the Nigerian Army. If you go to the 6 Division, unless they have moved them out, you will see ballot boxes and electoral materials. The 6 Division served as the take off base for the electoral interference.
“We formally request that appropriate sanctions be meted out to the GOC of the 6 Division. It has never happened that the Army Division becomes the operational base of a political party. This GOC became actively involved in politics. He has his own Government in Rivers State. He has no respect for civil authority.
“We seek the immediate redeployment of the GOC, Major General Jamil Sarhem. He cannot fight crime. Leaving the GOC here, will be creating more crisis. He is here to fight crime and not to play politics. If soldiers fight crime, the way they intervened in last elections, there will be no kidnapper anywhere “.
He said that elections took place across Rivers State in the polling units. He noted that aside Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Rivers people voted.
The governor regretted that the challenge came during the collation, when operatives of the Nigerian Army invaded collation centres to cart away Form EC 8C for the governorship election and Form EC 8b1 for the House of Assembly election.
Governor Wike took time to enumerate the areas where the Nigerian Army unleashed violence on Rivers people. He also listed the names of soldiers who led the operations. He regretted that the Army was relegated beyond comprehension as the GOC took orders from the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi on the deployment of soldiers to opposition leaders in the state.
He noted that the situation became so bad that the Minister had more than a platoon of soldiers attached to him each time he visited Rivers State for political activities. The governor stated that soldiers indiscriminately arrested and detained over 200 PDP leaders, agents and supporters at Bori Camp before, during and after the 2019 Governorship and State Assembly elections.
He said as a sitting governor, he has no soldiers attached to him, but ordinary opposition leaders have several soldiers attached to them for illegal activities during the elections.
Governor Wike said the committee should ensure that it unravels all the illegal actions taken by the Nigerian Army during the elections . He particularly decried the invasion of the home of the State Education Commissioner , the harassment of his family and his subsequent arrest. Wike informed the committee that in one of the post election briefings at Bori Camp, the GOC wondered why the soldiers failed to kill him.
Also speaking, the State Education Commissioner, Dr Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja outlined the trauma he faced alongside his family during the invasion of his home by soldiers. He explained how he was interrogated by the GOC at the 6 Division after his arrest. The Commissioner shocked the committee when he informed that upon his release he was driven home by the Rivers State Commander of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Akin Fakorede.
Chairman of the Army probe panel, Major General Ayibakuro Gagariga said the committee was established by the Chief of Army Staff to investigate allegations of misconduct against the Nigerian Army. He noted that the committee would look into cases of alleged interference by the Nigerian Army during the general elections in Rivers State.
“There was the killing of Lt Gumi in Abonnema. Others were also killed during the elections in Rivers State. There is also the allegation on the attempt to assassinate the Rivers State Governor “, he said.