TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
The People’s Democratic Party Campaign Council in Rivers State has raised allegations against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and security agencies, particularly the 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, of plots to cause crisis and disrupt the February 23 presidential and National Assembly and other elections.
Addressing journalists at the council’s headquarters, in Port Harcourt, the Director-General of PDP campaign Ambassador Desmond Akawor, said the comments of some chieftains of APC and the actions of the army were indications that they had perfected plans to disrupt the elections so that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can cancel Rivers polls.
Akawor expressed worries over the desperation of APC to truncate the elections in the state, alleging plot by security agencies to arrest and detain PDP chieftains till the elections were over.
He stated: “The purpose of this press conference is to draw the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the plot and brazen determination of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to violently prevent the general elections from holding in Rivers State and scuttle the rights of our people to freely and fairly elect their leaders on February 23 and March 9, 2019.
“For instance, on Friday February 15, 2019, just 24 hours to the now- rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections, the APC-led Federal government deployed full military arsenal to cordon off, overrun and prevent voters and residents from getting to Akuku Toru, Andoni, Asari Toru, Bonny, Degema, Okrika and Opobo/Nkoro local government areas.
“On January 23, 2019, some leaders of the APC addressed a world press conference wherein they issued a direct and specific public threat to the effect that; ‘there will be no National Assembly, governorship and state House of Assembly elections in Rivers State until all the cases pending before various courts had gone to the apex court for final decisions.
“Instead, we have started witnessing concerted efforts by the APC, INEC and the security agencies, especially the Nigerian Army and the police, to actualise both the intent and content of the dangerous agenda of the APC to truncate the electoral processes in the state as we get closer to the election dates,” the PDP campaign DG stated.
The campaign council also condemned the statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari directing the police and military to be ruthless to ballot box snatchers.
However, the council said PDP was determined in the elections because it had carried out intensive campaigns across the state.
But in a swift reaction, factional spokesman of the APC in the state, Chris Finebone, stated: “The attention of our party, the APC, has been drawn to a long litany of lies placed in the public space by the Rivers State chapter of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in which several outlandish falsehoods were bandied as truth.
“We can only summarise that the PDP in Rivers State is doing exactly what the Holy Bible referred to as the guilty running when no one is pursuing.
“We hereby warn the PDP to desist from maligning innocent members of the APC who have done nothing wrong whatsoever.
“We believe that the Nigerian military whom the PDP has unfortunately chosen to malign, blackmail and insult, can adequately speak for themselves.
“However, we must caution the PDP that our gallant soldiers who place their lives on the line every other day to protect us deserve better treatment than the PDP has chosen to embark upon.
“As a party, we shall adequately respond to the trash the PDP has put out to the public. But, may I unequivocally state that no part of that PDP text should be taken seriously as it is mere hogwash intended to deflate attention from the evil-rigging schemes of the PDP in the coming elections,” Finebone said.
Earlier, the headquarters of the 6 Division, Nigerian Army (NA), had vowed to be ruthless to persons that would attempt to disrupt the elections in the state.
Deputy Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, gave the warning, in a statement he issued in Port Harcourt.
Aminu said that credible intelligence available to Headquarters 6 Division Nigerian Army (NA) has uncovered an unholy plan by some political actors within its Area of Responsibility (AOR) to arm and sponsor miscreants in addition to using military-like fatigue dress for deception to cause pandemonium at polling stations for their political gain.
Iliyasu stated: “While covert efforts are on-going to track the source of the weapons and the agents involved in conjunction with sister security agencies, authorities of 6 Division NA wish to unequivocally state that anyone found to be disrupting the electoral process under any guise, will be decisively dealt with in accordance with the laws, no matter how highly placed he or she is.
“To this end, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division and Land Component Commander (LCC) OPDS, Major General Jamil Sarham, wishes to reassure the good people of Niger Delta of providing adequate security in conjunction with other security agencies before, during and after the 2019 general elections.”