•Winners and losers
From Chris Anucha, Molly Kilete, Tony John, Port Harcourt
WHEN the Eighth Rivers State House of Assembly will be reconvening, the controversial Chidi Lloyd will be missing. On the other hand, his colleague in the Seventh Assembly, Michael Okechukwu Chinda, who, Chidi Lloyd hit with Mace on July 9, 2013, during the crisis that engulfed the Assembly during Chibuike Amaechi’s administration, will make the list of the 32 lawmakers of the House.
Lloyd and Chinda’s story in the Seventh Assembly was well known during the impeachment saga of the then Speaker, Otelemaba Dan-Amachree and his alleged replacement with Evans Bipi, who was later, nicknamed “The Authentic Speaker”.
That fateful July 9, 2013, the crisis that engulfed the State House of Assembly would have claimed the life of Chinda but he was revived after he was flown abroad for treatment. At the peak of the brouhaha in the hallowed chambers, Lloyd, who was the Leader of the House attacked Chinda with the Mace, hitting it on his head. The injury kept the victim off the Assembly up to the end of the Seventh Assembly. Some political analysts still believe that, that courageous action displayed by Chidi Lloyd, saved Hon Dan Otelemaba from being impeached.
The crisis gave birth to the popular “Five anti-Amaechi lawmakers’, which later increased to six at the last lap of the Seventh Assembly. The anti-Amaechi lawmakers were: Evans Bipi (Ogu/ Bolo Constituency), Michael O. Chinda (Obio/Akpor Constituency 2), Martins Amaewhule (Obio/Akpor Constituency 1), Victor Ihunwo (Phalga Constituency 3), Kelechi Worgu (Omuma Constituency) and Ibani Ikuinyi (Andoni Constituency).
However, six of them sustained the struggle and eventually made the Eighth Assembly. Lloyd, who is from Emohua Constituency, could not make it to the House, which would have been his fourth time. He was knocked out by a first timer, Sam Ogeh. As expected, Lloyd challenged the victory of Ogeh, and won his case at the Election Petitions Tribunal and Court of Appeal, which ordered a re-run.
Before the nullification of the 22 seats in the House of Assembly, which, incidentally, affected five out of the six anti-Amaechi lawmakers (Bipi scaled through), the leadership of the House comprised Ikuinyi (Speaker), Amaewhule (House Leader) and Bipi ( Chief Whip).
Lloyd’s last hope was dashed in the just concluded re-run election, as his opponent, Sam Ogeh of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), scored 13,621 votes. Lloyd of the All Progressives Congress (APC) polled 5,413 votes. Similarly, Chinda of PDP, defeated his opponent, Wali Belief Azeru of APC. The figures polled by two of them were not indicated by the Independent national Electoral Commission (INEC).
It was gathered that many forces worked against Lloyd from making it the fourth time. People believe that his presence in the House of Assembly would have posed another danger, and could lead to impeachment of the governor if APC had majority in the House.
Killings, electoral fraud:
Killings and electoral fraud , among other vices which characterised the 2015 general elections in Rivers State reared their ugly heads in the March 19, 2016 rerun. Over 15 persons, including a youth corps member, Okonta Dumebi Samuel , were killed during the inconclusive election.
Despite the attempt by the military to mop up arms and ammunition, believed to be in possession of ex-militants, they were still used by political thugs to perpetrate violence during the election. The difference, however, is that unlike in 2015 generation elections where the trigger-happy political thugs operated with impunity, they met a brick wall this time round as the security agents gave them a run for their money. Though the security agencies lost some of their men, including an Army Major and DSS operative, the armed political thugs paid dearly for their action.
On the violence in Rivers Sate, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the State, Aniedi Ikoiwak, had this to say: “I think the attitude of politicians in Rivers State and in the whole Nigeria needs to change. Their mindset needs to change.
“They must know that this Commission is out to conduct election. I think our politicians still think that elections are being won with the number of guns you have, by the number of bullets you shoot; by the number of mercenaries and number of youths you recruit to shoot.
“If that is what we want to do here, it is not good. I would want the people of Nigeria to change their mind set about election because election is a civic duty. We should be worried that anytime we have election, we close down every sector of the security to move in to go and conduct election; we should be worried.”
Besides politically -motivated killings, one disappointing aspect of the election is the electoral fraud. Before March 19, the PDP raised the alarm over the circulation of fake INEC result sheets. The party had alleged that the All Progressives Congress(APC) hired a printer in Lagos that printed the fake results, with a view to using same to rig the rerun election. Though the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the State Aniedi Ikoiwak, has denied the allegation, the
INEC headquarters, Abuja, said it would investigate the allegation of fake result sheet.
The electoral violence, fraud and others, led to the suspension of election in eight local government areas. The local governments affected are, Gokana, Bonny, Andoni, Khana, Tai, Eleme Etche and Asari-Toru.
Amaechi’s federal might versus Wike’s grassroots strength
In 2015, when Dr Goodluck Jonathan was still in power, the PDP made use of the ‘federal might’ to deal decisively with the then opposition party, APC, in the state. The military, police, DSS, name it, were alleged to have worked for the PDP in 2015 general elections. This explained why the political thugs, drawn mainly, from the ex-militants terrorised the state unhindered.
But when the APC won the election at the federal level , many people thought the rerun election was going to be a smooth one for APC.
Actually, there was heavy presence of security agents in the state, which some persons said would be to the advantage of APC. But it does appear that the APC lacked the knowledge of how to use the ‘federal might’ to win election, like the PDP did in the state in 2015.
However, one lesson to be learnt about Rivers State rerun is that, it is not enough to have ‘federal might’ behind you. Events showed that one also needs to have the grassroots that would harness the so called ‘federal might’. One thing that Governor Wike has going for him is being close to the grassroots. And that is what has made the party to beat APC hands down in the rerun election.
The controversial shootout near DSS office
Members of the public deserve to know the truth about the controversial shootout near the DSS office in Forces Avenue, Old GRA port Harcourt , that claimed the life of the personal aide to the Chief of Staff, Government House, Engineer Emeka Woke. The security agents should also clear the air on who wanted to kill who, or who killed who. While the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside claimed that there was assassination attempt on him, Governor Wike dismissed the claim and called for his prosecution for murder. Dr Dakuku, the state chairman of APC, Dr Davies Ibiamu Ikanya and Dakuku’s deputy during the 2015 governorship election, Hon. Asita O.Asita, were said to be in the same vehicle, when the gunmen attacked them. Dr Dakuku’s aide, Emma Ese, was shot in the leg during the attack while Emeka Woke’s aide was killed. Members of the public are waiting on the security agents for clarification on the matter.
How AIG Bolanta, averted bloody clash at Mile 1 police station.
But for the quick intervention of the Assistant Inspector General of Police(AIG), Baba Bolanta, who was alerted to come and intervene in a ripple between the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, the Director General of NIMASSA, Dakuku Peterside, the Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari on one hand, and the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, and other PDP leaders on the other hand, there would have been a bloody clash.
The battle field would have been the popular Mile 1 Police Division. The incident that led to the fracas between loyalists of the three political heavy weights in the state, was said to have occurred, after a female, a Collation Officer, Mrs. Ekwi Adebisa, allegedly absconded from her duty post few hours after voting had been concluded.
The voters, party agents as well as security personnel, posted to oversee the security situation at the venue, waited in vain for the lady to return, but she did not after which they dispersed.
But as early as 6 o’clock, the next day, being Sunday, they converged on the same venue located along Ikwerre Road only for the Collation Officer to appear at about 8am.
On sighting the woman, they decided to demand from her why she disappeared from the scene. As if that was not enough, it was gathered that the voters and some people claimed they saw her smuggling in some documents and immediately raised the alarm.
The protesters, numbering over 100, began to call for her head. Sensing danger and for fear of being attacked by the mob, she escaped to a safe place, where she later called for help.
Help, however came from policemen from Mile 1 police station, close to the polling unit, who took her to the police station.
In the mist of the confusion, supporters of the two major political parties invited their leaders, which included Amaechi and Wike, and they quickly rushed to the scene with a retinue of security agents, including soldiers.
All pleas by the police and other security agents, as well as INEC staff that were on ground to the political leaders fell on deaf ears, as they vowed to burn down the police station, if the police did not release the Collation Officer to them to give her jungle justice.
Tension built up, while the atmosphere was charged, leading to the fear-stricken Divisional Police Officer in charge of the station to put a call to the AIG, when he could no longer handle the situation.
The AIG, who just reported to his office 20 minutes earlier, immediately rushed to the scene to douse the tension caused by the presence of Amaechi, Wike, soldiers, DSS at the police station.
“I brought the woman to my office and we listened to her, I later handed her over to the CID for investigation,” the AIG had told Daily Sun in an exclusive interview.