TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
The Rivers State People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Campaign Council has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use the case of the state elections to assert its independence and not allow the military and Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) to usurp its functions.
The state PDP Campaign Council made this call in a press statement issued by the Director of Information and Communications, Emma Okah.
According to Okah, the INEC needs to be bold and independent and call the bluff of the defaulting security agencies and their collaborators in the All Progressives Congress (APC), who are bent on dragging the name of the commission through the mud.
“The integrity of the electoral process is the hallmark of democracy and development and, if people can no longer trust the umpire, all the talks about the civil rule are like blowing hot air,” Okah said.
He noted that time had come for Nigerians to review the role of the military in their elections, saying that a situation where security agencies determine the measure of INEC’s success in elections, which is purely a civil exercise, spells doom for the nation and calls for a rethink.
Also, state Chairman of PDP, Felix Obuah, has condemned the continued detention of the party’s members and aides to Governor Nyesom Wike, and demanded their unconditional release by the military.
Obuah, through his media aide, Jerry Needam, alleged that some of those who were tortured by the army and operatives of FSARS, were still in critical condition and hospitalised.
“Notable among those still languishing in army and police detentions are Prof Israel Owate, Dr. Fred Ateng, and Deinma Iyalla, all of them are special advisers to Governor Nyesom Wike.
“Others are the chairman of Emohua Local Government Council, Tom Aliezi, Rivers State Coordinator of Arise Nigeria, Benjamin Diri, as well as ordinary defenceless men and women including pregnant mothers.
Meanwhile, the APC has accused the PDP of romancing INEC to manipulate the March 9 polls results and called on Nigerians not to be deceived by the allegation of military interference in Rivers.
State factional Publicity Secretary of APC, Chris Finebone, in a statement he issued in Port Harcourt, faulted the blackmail on the military by the state government.
Finebone said: “We call on Rivers people and Nigerians not to be hoodwinked into believing that Nigerian security agencies interfered in the electoral process in Rivers State. That is only a clever narrative being planted in the media to particularly blackmail the military and the Federal government into pulling out security agents from the state and returning it to the killing field many of us witnessed before, during and after the 2015 elections till date. Suffice to say that Rivers State has ever since 2015 become Nigeria’s headquarters of violence.
“With regard to the governorship election in Rivers State, we have observed with keen interest the macabre dance between the governor and INEC in Rivers State to upturn the popular will of the people expressed last Saturday and wish to call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt its macabre dance.
“It befuddles the mind how a self-confessed hater of President Buhari and his change agenda will possibly serve as a REC in Rivers State and give everyone a fair chance.
“We call on the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to redeploy Mr. Effanga from Rivers State without further delay in order to avoid a possible crisis that may follow the organised crime aimed at altering the result of the 2019 governorship polls in Rivers State,” Finebone stated.