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Rivers: APC, PDP allege plot to unleash violence on Saturday

Signs that Rivers State may burn on Saturday, March 18, 2023 are in the air. The two gladiators, former governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and present Governor Nyesom Wike are likely to fight to the finish to capture power in the state once again.

Thunderous verbal exchanges seem to be over, but field violence to overtake or checkmate each other appears to be next. Each camp says it has uncovered plots by the other to unleash mayhem on Saturday, May 18, 2023.

The first to go public is the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by former governor Amaechi.

The Rivers State publicity secretary of the APC, Darlington Nwauju, said the party has uncovered plots by the Rivers State Government and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state who said have recruited thugs and dressed them up in military uniforms to carry out attacks on the election day being Mach 18, 2023 in the state.

Addressing journalists evening of Thursday, March 16, 2023, Nwauju said the areas mapped out for fierce attack would be Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local council areas being the state capital on that Saturday. (These were the areas where the Labour Party claimed to have defeated Wike forces in the presidential election but that the result was changed in one of the LGAs, Obio/Akpor).

Nwauju said Rivers State and the APC have had a checkered history with over 500 of their members allegedly killed in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local council area (ONELGA) in 2014/15 alone. “Up to this moment, no justice has been obtained for them or their families.

“We want to put it on record that the federal government (FG) and the security agencies that lives are not safe in Rivers State as March 18, 2023 comes.”

The spokesman said the APC was now forced to ask the FG to tell the APC and the common people of Rivers State to defend themselves, to tell the opposition what to do going forward.

He went on: “Last night, our member in Ikwerre local council area of the state was abducted. Just this afternoon, two more of our members in Ikwerre LGA have been abducted by men wearing military uniforms.

“Right now, there are reports of arms buildup in Opobo and Nkoro areas of the state.”

He said the governor set the stage for violence and for anti-democratic environment when he started rolling out orders that limited the environment for the opposition political parties. “These are anti-democratic instructions. Orders 21 and 22 are clearly anti-democratic orders.

“Also, Gov Wike is a sitting governor but he is sponsoring candidates in the elections. In that case, he is an interested party. He is no longer a neutral leader

“Security has therefore been compromised and damaged in Rivers State. We wonder why Rivers people are left alone to face this.’

He said the APC members may be instructed to defend themselves, because there is no other option and that security agencies have refused to protect the opposition.

“It is no longer hear-say, all forms of orders were issued to cripple the opposition. We now say that the FG owes all parties some protection

“We have it on good authority that thugs have been hired and dressed and 30 hilux vans have been procured to rove about on Saturday. Nowhere can free and fair election hold with such level of violence.’

Answering a question if any formal report was lodged to the police, and if the posting of four commissioners of police and an Assistant Inspector-General of Police to the state has made any difference in terms of security or reduction of electoral violence in Rivers State, he said there has been no difference so far.

“There are overwhelming evidences of snatching of ballot boxes, brutalizing people, hospital cases, many cases in places such as Ahoada, yet nothing has happened. Reports were made by even some NGO, yet no action are usually taken.

“But a video evidence was enough to arrest an APC member and since incarcerated. We have reason to say and we have been saying that policing in Rivers State is one-sided.

“In January this year, our rally in Port Harcourt was bombed with evidences, but the police denied it was bombing. We were attacked in Opobo, but no arrest so far.

“In Omuma, our rally was attacked but the police said it was communal clash when there was no single such case in that area. We want the nation to hear our voice and the FG to act.’

…. Wike, too, uncovers plot by Amaechi, petitions defence minister

Gov Nyesom Wike has also uncovered his own plot hatched by the former transportation minister and his predecessor and kinsman, Chibuike Amaechi to unleash mayhem on same Saturday.

Wike said the state government has thus petitioned the Minister of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff and other relevant authorities not to release army personnel to former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, or any politician to interfere in Saturday’s election.

Read also: Guns speak louder than votes in Nigeria’s democracy

Gov Wike in a state broadcast Thursday evening said the State government decided to petition the aforementioned authorities based on credible intelligence indicating the plans by Amaechi and the APC to overrun and disrupt the Saturday elections in Rivers State with army personnel and civilian thugs and cultists dressed in army and police uniforms.

Wike has pressed charges against Amaechi and the APC candidate saying they diverted $50m from proceeds of sale of assets of the state.

“We have written to notify the Hon. Minister of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army, and the General Officer Commanding the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, and requested that no military personnel is released to Rotimi Amaechi or any other politician to interfere with next Saturday’s elections in Rivers State.

“Furthermore, we have noticed that the Anti-terrorism Unit of the State Police command continues to provide VIP security services to politicians in defiance of the Inspector-General’s order to withdraw all police personnel attached to VIPs during the elections.

“We, therefore request the Inspector-General of Police to enforce his order by ensuring that all political leaders are restricted to their polling units and prevented from moving about with police escort.”

Gov Wike also requested the security agencies to arrest and prosecute some 27 local politicians who he said were plotting to disrupt the elections with armed thugs, cultists, and gangsters in military and police uniforms.

Gov Wike said the State government expected the security high command to live up to their assurance of providing adequate security beef-of throughout the State to forestall any security breaches or breakdown of law and order during and after the elections.

“We assure everyone that we will do everything within our power to resist and prevent a repeat of what happened in 2019 when the Nigerian Army was used to rig, kill our people, and destroy property during the elections across the State.

The governor urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to guarantee and ensure that next Saturday’s elections are free, fair, and credible, by allowing the electorate to decide their leaders.

…….

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