WIDE PROTERSTS FOLLOW ALLEGATIONS OF RIGGING
BY GABRIEL PRINCEWILL
A voter was beheaded in one of the most violent governorship elections in Rivers State, Nigeria, Sunday evening. The identity of the beheaded victim has not been announced, but it is said to have taken place in Buguma, Rivers State. One witness told The eye of Media ” it was gruesome. We saw wicked things take place with no fear of God or concern for human life. People were running and screaming, people ran past dead bodies for their lives”. It felt like being in a war zone, worse than a horror movie”.
Rivers state which is rich in oil and central to the Nigerian economy, has always been fiercely contested when it comes to governorship posts. PDP representative, Nyesome Wike, was announced the winner of the governorship elections in Rivers amid the same cries of a sham that preceded his election as party representative during last year’s primaries in December. Wike, a former of Minister of Education and a lawyer by profession, has been credited with investing a lot of money into his party over the years. It is believed he is so well connected with a strong hold on the establishment and the state machinery in his favor
SHOOTING AND BURNING
Heavy shooting was reported in the Obio Akpor Local Government area before soldiers moved into Buguma in Asari Toru LGA where more than 12 people were feared dead, having been shot by political thugs.
The house of the State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Joeba West and the INEC polling centre in Kalabari National college in the town was also set ablaze by arsonists. Shockingly, it is also reported that 80% of card readers in the town of Okrika were not working and ballot papers and boxes were snatched by thugs determined to disrupt the elections in a bid to illegally procure a victory for the party they felt would benefit their interests more. There is a deep seated understanding among Rivers people that the Northerners have shown a tendency to exploit them of their oil and freeze them out without consideration- a view point that may explain the barbaric acts that attended the governorship elections last weekend. Unfortunately, Nigerian elections are rarely free from a despicable level of violence, and are also shamefully often marked by an alarming level of fraud. Results sheets in 9 wards were said to be missing and missing results sheets were replaced with cloned sheets according to Chief Tony Okotcha, leader of APC in Ogbo AKPA AGA.
FEAR OF EXPLOITATION
The APC opposition party were victorious in toppling President Jonathan Goodluck- a victory that dramatically aligned their triumph when they also seized the governorship seat of Lagos. Victory should always be a celebrated occasion, but in Nigeria those who feel marginalized by the grandiose selfish acts of the ruling elites always feel threatened by the exploitation they perceive will follow. APC members are generally made up of individuals from the Northern part of Nigeria and indigines of the Yoruba tribe, though there are a scant number of Rivers indigines and individuals from Edo State among them. There is a natural feeling of distrust between Northerners and Southerners because of the way those in power often abuse their position and monopolise the rich oil reserves for the benefit of their people, and at the expense of those from Rivers State where the oil actually grows and is produced. Plenty of blood has historically been shed over oil amongst these people.
It is widely believed in Rivers State that the Northerners have shown a tendency to exploit them of their oil and freeze them out without consideration- a view point that may ironically depicts the barbaric scenes that attended the governorship elections. An investigation should follow, but one insider told ‘eye of media’, jungle justice is what we have here, not like you guys in the UK. However, another source told eye of media, that a probe is likely to take place. The declared winner of the last elections had someone replace him on the order of the courts, so this result is not final. Wike should not seat comfortable.
Unfortunately, Nigerian elections are rarely free from a despicable level of violence, and are also shamefully often marked by an alarming level of fraud. It is difficult to find any political party in Nigeria that conduct election on purely fair grounds because of the burning issue of ethnicity and religion, both of which arouse problems of partisanship when it comes to the distribution of wealth. This is the evil that besets a beleagared people who otherwise should be collectively swimming in economic prosperity.The Incumbent governor, Amaechi, who has been criticized for defecting to the APC, called the elections a sham. However, the declared winner, Wike said ”which election has he not called a sham? When Buhari won the elections, did he not call it an Act of God?
International election observers on Sunday called for the outright cancellation of the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State, describing it as a far cry of what elections ought to be and stressed it did not meet the standards of what elections ought to be. What we saw did not meet the accepted standards of electioneering, including the once set by the INEC. Bekaren said, “We are leaders of civil society groups and advocacy organisations. We have watched with shock the unfortunate events that took place during the April 11, 2015 Gubernatorial/House of Assembly elections in Rivers State. He added that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, ignored the widely reported irregularities to begin the process of declaring elections in the State.
“There were reported events of deliberate delays and diversion of electoral materials, attacks on electoral officers, widespread arson, snatching of electoral materials, killings, voter intimidation with active connivance with security agencies”.
The ACLSD coordinator, therefore, called on all lovers of democracy to join in the call for the cancellation of the April 11 election in the state.
He said, “More disturbing was the organised disruption of the process by hoodlums who had a free reign despite the presence of security personnel. In many areas of the state, people who had no business at the polling units hijacked the process, chased away voters, took possession of materials and engaged in mind boggling irregularities presided over by some politicians”.
The electoral Commission reported 66 instances of violent acts at polling stations, with the highest numbers in Rivers State and other Southern States. APC supporters demonstrated widely throughout the State, protesting the announced results of the elections. Local INEC spokesperson said ” we have recently received results from only one local government out of 23 in the State. Her boss, INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega, promised a thorough investigation and added that he would communicate the results of the investigation to the respective parties. ”We are concerned about what seems to be happening in Rivers State, he said. There are many allegations of malpractice… and we will certainly pay attention to it. If any of our staff are involved, we will apply appropriate sanctions.
The allegations made about the PDP party are most disturbing, if indeed the reported allegations actually took place. Reliable sources told The eye of media that the killings that took place to secure the victory for the PDP party were unbelievable. One eye witness told eye of media ” it was like watching a movie”. I saw continuous shootings, people killed like animals, it was surreal”.
What transpired on a disturbing day of elections in the country’s richest state was disturbing and reprehensible. There is a long history behind it. We shall wait and see what the future holds and if the courts intervene. As things stand, Barrister, Nyesome Wike, is the governor of Rivers State and will walk into the Brick House next month.