Tony John, Port Harcourt
The 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has expressed disappointment over the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) fact-finding committee on the circumstances that led to the suspension of the Rivers State electoral process, which report allegedly indicted the army in the violence.
A statement issued on Monday night and signed on behalf of the 6 Division by the deputy director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, said the army worked hard to assist during the governorship and state House of Assembly elections, to ensure a peaceful and violence-free poll, expressing shock that INEC would turn around to blame it for the crisis.
The army further stated that the Rivers State Police Command, which earlier investigated the attack on military personnel by political thugs and took media men round various hospitals to visit the victims, could not deliver its report to the INEC fact-finding committee that visited the state recently.
Iliyasu, in the statement, claimed that the committee was not fair in its report, stressing that the report did not feature the Nigerian Army’s defence on the alleged violence.
Iliyasu stated that, instead of balancing the report, the committee only indicted the army in the electoral violence in Rivers State.
The Nigerian Army further threatened to review existing joint activities with the Rivers State Police Command, if it fails to tell the public the truth about the state elections, especially how the military helped in preventing violence and aided in peaceful polls.
The statement read: “Headquarters 6 Division, Nigerian Army (NA), has observed with dismay and sense of betrayal the statement made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and signed by its National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, on March 15, 2019. The statement, according to INEC, was the findings of its fact-finding committee that assessed the situation in Rivers State.
“It is, however, pertinent to note that representatives of the 6 Division met with the fact-finding committee on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at the INEC headquarters in Port Harcourt, and had honest discussions and made a written submission to aid the committee on its task. Regrettably, none of the division’s input from any of the findings of INEC was made public. This clearly indicates lack of trust by an institution that the army sacrificed so much to assist in the course of performing their role.”
nalists have been assembled.
“Coincidentally, a rescheduled press conference on the matter was also aborted on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Most disheartening is that while the Rivers State Police Command accepts the involvement of their personnel in the attack at Obio/Akpor Local Government Headquarters, till date, those personnel have not been reprimanded.
“To this end, in the circumstance, the 6 Division NA, as a stakeholder in the 2019 General Elections takes exception to the lopsided and unfair INEC report, and is hereby strongly and totally rejected by the NA.”
“The Division is equally disappointed with the attitude exhibited by the Nigeria Police in this regard and hereby request the police leadership to commence full scale investigation of those security aides to Governor Wike that attacked troops at the Obio/Akpor LG Headquarters Collation Centre and shot at Capt AA Salami with a view to appropriately sanctioning those found culpable. Until that is done, Headquarters 6 Division NA will have to review all existing joint activities with the Rivers State Police Command,” Iliyasu stated.
The State Police Command has not reacted to the Army’s allegation. When Daily Sun contacted the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni, yesterday, he admitted to be aware of the statement from the 6 Division.
Omoni told our reporter that he would get back to him on the statement. But, that was not done as at the time of filing this report.