By Kenneth Atavti
IT is not difficult for any discerning mind to know that the Police High Command may have been complicit to the opprobrious outing during the recent Rivers State legislative election rerun.
The prelude was not circumspect, especially with the withdrawal of the Chief Security Officer, CSO to the state governor, Chief Nyesom Wike. Also withdrawn were policemen from Government House, Port Harcourt. The Police High Command further effected the transfer of 500 senior and junior police officers from the state.
As if that was not enough, John Oyegun, chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, gave an uncivilised advise to members of his party by urging them to retaliate whatever action they get from loyalists of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the rerun election.
Oyegun who spoke during a mega rally of the party in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, particularly said: “If they push you, push them back. If they slap you, slap them back.” This, among other deeds, provided a leeway for war and explained why the rerun was marred by violence.
At the end of the day, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Alkali Mohammed and his orderly were beheaded amongst other killings and ballot snatching.
Security agents were alleged to have played a big role in the violence that marred the rerun. Apart from the observation of ordinary observers, residents of areas where violence was reported linked it to the attitude of some security operatives on the ground.
Some residents even blamed security agents for the incidence of ballot box snatching, and unjustified harassment of voters and party officials, although
the army and the police have denied such allegations.
Several PDP members were killed by policemen and SARS personnel. Musa was murdered in cold blood by policemen in Bodo City of Gokana LGA, while Mr Lenee Neebani,
Ward 10 Chairman, Khana LGA abducted by soldiers as he joined other party officials to monitor the movement of materials has died. He widow in an interview blamed soldiers.
Surprisingly, the Police whose operatives are paid from the tax payers money and not a political party seem to have taken side with Chief Oyegun and his party, the APC.
Even though the IGP has set up an investigative panel to investigate developments before and during the polls, it has been rumoured in certain quarters that the Police may not question Chief Oyegun for inciting the electorate in Rivers State to perpetrate violence.
The IGP, Ibrahim Idris, has set up a team of detectives to conduct forensic analysis on the audio clips of a phone call purportedly made by Governor Nyesom Wike in respect of the concluded rerun elections in River
It would be recalled that an online medium, Sahara Reporters, posted audios of phone calls allegedly made by Wike in which the governor allegedly instructed some electoral officials to rig the election.
In a particular audio recording, a voice was heard threatening to kill some electoral officials if they failed to carry out the directives for which they were bribed.
The team of detectives was also mandated to conduct a thorough investigation into a statement credited to the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Yakubu Mahmud, in which he said that 70 incidents almost marred the December 10, 2016 rerun in the state.
The IGP said the team would unmask those who were directly or indirectly responsible for such incidents and bring them to justice.
The police spokesman, Donald Awunah, in a statement, called on the Rivers State Government and INEC to avail the investigative team with facts at their disposal and grant them the desired cooperation and assistance to achieve a comprehensive and conclusive investigation.
Awunah said, “The investigative team is also mandated to conduct forensic analysis on the audio report released by Sahara Reporters purportedly to be the voice of the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike pertaining to the concluded elections.
“The investigative team is headed by a deputy commissioner of police who has vast experience in investigation. The team has 30 days to complete the
investigation and submit a report. The findings will be made public.”
Observers insist that should there be a probe into the rerun elections, it should be done by the United Nations because the Army and Police have been indicted in the violence that marred the rerun elections.
According to CLEEN Foundation in its report, “The way and manner in which the election was conducted is a validation of the outcomes of the Security Threat Assessment report, and justifies the concerns of various stakeholders that the outcome of the election will not reflect the will of the people.
“There were serious cases of electoral violence orchestrated by the Police, Army and DSS in Ward 3 Bodo community in Gokana and Khana Local Government Area. This led to the shooting to death of Mr. Mbari John MeeBari.
“At Ward 12, Unit 5, Abonnema, Akuku Toru, Police shot sporadically to scarce away voters. At Sara 1, Sara 2 and Kalakama (Ward 12), Okirika LGA electoral materials were hijacked by the Army and officers of SARS at gunpoint.”
The report claimed that the killing of a police officer, DSP, Alkali Mohammed and his orderly, were due to “unwarranted use of force and shooting”.
“INEC, Police, Army and DSS provided overt and covert support for one of the political parties during the poll at Isiokpo INEC Collation Center,Ikwerre LGA, Ngo in Andoni LGA, Bonny LGA and Ahoada, INEC Staff and security agencies especially the army and police were observed openly aiding a political party,” CLEEN said
For the PDP, the Inspector General Of Police lacks the moral high ground to institute a probe.
Prince Dayo Adeyeye, National Publicity Secretary, in a statement declared:
“It is sarcastic for the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to constitute a panel of investigation for the purported ‘threatening phone call’ by the Governor of Rivers State, H. E. Chief Nyesom Wike instead of seeking solution to all the video evidence of the killings and hijacking of electoral materials by the Police and other security agencies with some INEC officials during the Re-run Elections.
” For instance in Gokana Local Government Area, men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) were seen in a video shooting sporadically to disperse voters and later made away with ballot boxes. The same incident occurred in almost all the Polling Units in Rivers South East Senatorial District where Senator Magnus Abe was magically declared winner. Given the state of war in this entire District between security agencies and Rivers people, we still want to know who voted to make up the Results declared for the APC.
“We wish to also remind Nigerians of the Video of two staffers of the INEC caught in the act at the home of an APC Chieftain in Opobo Town, Sam Sam Jaja. These men were taken to the House of Mr. Jaja by officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and were apprehended while thumb-printing and writing of results in favour of Jaja’s Party, the APC. Equally, there is a popular video running in various television stations showing the Officer-in- charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Mr. Akin Fakorede in Rivers State who led his team to INEC Collation Center in Port Harcourt to hijack election materials.
” These and many more glaring evidences abound of the collaboration between security agencies, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi and the INEC who were seen distorting and disrupting electoral processes in other to win at all cost but for the zeal and determination of the people of Rivers State who stood and defended their votes vehemently in most areas.
“We therefore urge the IGP to stop embarrassing Nigeria further and immediately bring to book all those seen in these videos committing electoral offenses. It’s suspicious and dangerous for the IGP to overlook these breaches of the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act by his men. Nigerians are waiting eagerly for the actions or inactions of the Police in this regard.”
Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the commission had set an internal mechanism in motion to identify the voice of the alleged INEC employee in the audio tape.
However, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has stated that his administration and people of the state would not be a party to the police probe of the December 10 rerun election, described such investigation as phony.
Wike, who spoke at a victory thanksgiving mass of the PDP at Our Lady Chaplaincy of Catholic Institute of West Africa in Port Harcourt, said the probe on the rerun election had a predetermined goal to indict PDP and commence their politically motivated prosecution.
He said: “The police cannot deliberately murder Rivers people in cold blood and turn around to investigate.
“We are not a party to their so-called panel. We have passed that stage and we cannot fall into the trap of a panel of inquiry. After killing our people,
you want us to assist you unravel what? It is the police that killed our people.”
The governor wondered why the police would claim it wanted to investigate issues surrounding the Rivers rerun elections when it is one of the
interested parties involved in the attempt to subvert the will of the people.
He explained that it was the Police High Command that refused to prosecute the APC chieftains caught on camera printing fake result sheets ahead of the
He added that petitions to the Police High Command on the negative activities of ACP Steven Hasso and the Commander of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Mr. Akin Fakorede were disregarded.
The outcome of the rerun probe by the Police, negative or positive, will cast a long shadow in the country’s political trajectory. Whether it will obviate the degenerating political situation is a moral question President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will have to answer.
Kenneth Atavti is judicial editor of Nigerian pilot newspapers writes from Abuja