ABUJA—Ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary rerun elections in Rivers State, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, were, yesterday, locked in a war of words over alleged plans to unleash violence.
In the face of the claims and counter-claims, including allegation that Governor Nyesom Wike had been targeted for assassination, the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, pleaded with frightened Corps members, who earlier volunteered to supervise the elections, not to back out.
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris in a retort to Governor Nyesom Wike’s claims of an assassination plot against him, dismissed the allegation which he said was not worth responding to.
This came as State Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, told Vanguard that allegations of a plot to rig the elections were unfounded, even as the Commission, last night, released details of the constituencies where the rerun elections would hold.
The elections, the commission said in a statement, would hold in all three senatorial districts, eight federal constituencies, and 10 state constituencies.
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting in Port-Harcourt, yesterday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to include Tai Local Government Area among the local government areas where the elections would hold. The court decision was quickly welcomed by the PDP.
Meanwhile, confusion was last night trailing the judgment of a Federal High Court presided over by Justice Muhammad Liman on the status of Tai local government area in the coming rerun elections in the state.
The PDP and the APC gave different interpretations to the judgment of the court sitting in Port Harcourt.
While the PDP in a statement by its state Chairman, Mr Felix Obuah, said the court ordered INEC to conduct elections in Tai local government on December 10, the APC on its part in its statement by its Publicity secretary in the state, Mr Chris Finebone said the court only asked that elections be conducted in some of the units in the area.
The PDP, APC battle
The war of words between the two major political gladiators was triggered after the PDP accused the ruling APC in Abuja of working hand in glove with security agencies and INEC to rig the election, with a plan to assassinate Governor Wike as part of the scheme.
The APC in a sharp retort, accused Governor Wike of storing weapons to be used against the people on election day.
The PDP in its statement issued by party spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, also accused the APC of adopting a new rigging formula, different from what it allegedly adopted in recent governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states, to be used in Rivers.
The kernel of the rigging plan, according to Prince Adyeye, is to put Governor Wike and other leading PDP chieftains out of circulation to rig the election.
The PDP, which accused the immediate past governor of the state and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, of being behind the plot, said the alleged withdrawal of 70 per cent of security aides of the governor, including his Chief Security Officer, were part of the script.
“Governor Wike has written two letters to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) reporting this obvious breach of his constitutional rights which has received no response but instead, the CSO, who happens to be the Governor’s number one line of defence was withdrawn as the reply from the IGP.
“This latest development has confirmed that the former Governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi in collaboration with his Party’s-led federal government, and its security agencies have finalized plans to assassinate the Governor of Rivers State.
PDP shouting hoax —APC
The PDP’s allegations were firmly rebuffed by the APC which described it as a hoax and a diversionary attempt, by the party to divert attention from the alleged piling of arms and ammunition by the PDP in the Government House.
APC in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, urged security agencies to beam their searchlight on Governor Wike.
“The All Progressives Congress, APC, alerts security agencies on reports of a massive arms build-up by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike-led administration in the build-up to the December 10, 2016, legislative re-run elections in the state”, the party stated.
APC said nobody was after the governor, saying he was only afraid of the monumental loss that awaited his party should the election be conducted in an atmosphere where security was fool-proof.
“Nobody is after Wike. The governor and the PDP’s diversionary and false alarm is hinged on the reality that they will lose the legislative re-run elections once security is tightened in Rivers State.
“The APC hereby calls on security agencies to investigate the report of an arms build-up and be on high alert over the security situation in Rivers State under Wike’s watch and by extension the PDP in the lead-up to the Rivers legislative re-run election.
We’ll apply Ondo, Edo template -IGP
Meanwhile, the IGP vowed, yesterday, not to trade words with the governor or any other body on the pages of newspapers.
The IGP opined that there were 36 states in the country with commissioners of police, wondering why it was only Rivers State that was having issues with the police force.
Speaking in Abuja at a meeting with DIGs, AIGs and Commissioners of Police, the IGP said: “I don’t want to trade words over allegations against the police on the pages of Newspapers. We have 36 state governors in this country. I think we have good relations with all of them.”
The IGP cited Ondo and Edo states where elections recently held without any problems, noting that the same template will be applied to the Rivers State elections.
He said that as part of security arrangements for the re-run elections, a Deputy Inspector General of Police will be deployed to Rivers State, while he (IGP) will be in Port Harcourt on Thursday to hold a meeting with Stake-holders.
He directed all Commissioners of the four neighbouring states to Rivers, to report to Port Harcourt on Thursday to witness the briefing on officers and men that will be deployed for the elections.
INEC begs corps members
Meanwhile, INEC, yesterday, pleaded with the corps members who have volunteered to participate in the elections not to decline from the promise they made to the commission at the eleventh hour.
This was happening as the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Brig-Gen. Suleman Kazaure warned politicians in the state not to visit the corps members who will participate in the election with violence.
Kazaure spoke, yesterday, at a one-day orientation on ‘Safety and Security of corps members at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, instructing the corps members to be safety conscious and run for safety when violence erupted in their units.
Kazaure, who was represented by Mrs. Abosede Okaku, the Director, Corps Welfare and Health Services, said: “I have told you, December 10, we are having a major election here in the state, and you will be involved. We asked Corps member to volunteer; we did not make it by force. It is only those corps members that volunteered that will take part in the election. Do not involve in electoral malpractice else you will face the wrath of the law.”
In his address, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak said: “I thank the corps members who accepted this call. I urge you not to change your mind. Nothing should make you change your mind to say, yesterday I accepted, but today I have changed my mind.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr Francis Odesanya has placed restriction on movement in all parts of the state from 12 midnight on Friday to 8pm on Saturday.