* PDP says over 50 homes of chieftains attacked, many arrested
* Bloodshed as Ateke Tom’s base attacked again
* Wike says no amount of gunboats can stop him
* Chieftain says Wike’s Vigilante are attacking, arresting APC lords
By Ignatius Chukwu
The Army has been busy in the 24 hours leading to the governorship elections in Rivers Sate where almost 16,000 policemen are on duty. The Army is said to be striking at some bases believed to be power points of Gov Nyesom Wike. Wike is perceived as a string politician who believed in building power bases in communities empowered to deliver their areas. He used to mock former governor, Chibuike Amaechi, for preferring to rely on men and women of intellectual value without being electoral assets.
Wike believes that any power broker worth his or her salt would deliver his area. He is known to easily recount names of every ward leader in the state and he is said to know exactly what is needed to election in every ward in the state. His opponent fear what his foot soldiers can do on the eve of an election.
Now, soldiers seem to visit many power points and are said to be attacking them, arresting people. The home of the commissioner of education, Tamunosisi Gogo-Jack was the first to be in the news on Thursday where he was arrested by soldiers. The Army confirmed the arrest but did not explain his offence and that of his family and entire household that were arrested. Army sources said they had all been handed over to the police (SARS).
Next, uproar came from the home of Ateke Tom, former warlord and godfather who was crowned king by Gov Wike a year ago, at Okochiri, near Okrika. Life was said to be lost with blood stains shown in photographs circulating in the internet. The PDP said about 50 home have fallen to the army.
The governor has however said no amount of gunboat approach would dislodge on Saturday. He has won a court case many feared was strong enough to stop him from contesting. He says he fears no force.
The APC has also cried out, saying men from the Rivers State Neighbourhood Watch Corps have started invading home and arresting their (APC) leaders too. No reaction has come from them. Wike has briefed the heads of the US and UK on developments. The PDP also called on journalists and foreign observers to report the happenings in the state.
Ateke Tom suffered a big raid when Amaechi was governor and had to flee. Then, he was militant lord and head of some groups where he was said to have seen some battles that took lives. Amaechi refused to accept him as a militant but a person who should answer for his alleged offences. Ateke returned when the former first lady rallied all opponents of Amaechi for a showdown with the then governor. When Amaechi party lost, and Wike won, Ateke relaxed and became a king. Now, Ateke is under attack again as Amaechi returns to seek power base once again.
PDP outcry: 50 houses raided by Friday noon
The PDP in the state appealed to journalists and international observers in the State to be alive to their responsibilities by reporting the invasion, harassment and arrest of PDP members by elements of the Nigerian military.
The PDP in a statement in Port Harcourt said the call became necessary against the backdrop of monumental atrocities being unleashed on members of the PDP in the State by soldiers.
The party regretted that at the last count, over 50 houses belonging to prominent members of the PDP across the State have been destroyed while many homes have also been cordoned off, holding PDP members hostage for no justification.
The PDP reminded journalists and foreign observers of their place as the bastion of hope for the common man, even as it urged them to do the needful so that the world would appreciate the inherent dangers such actions portend for the survival of democracy in the country.
The Rivers PDP, which also described journalists as co-travelers in the developmental journey of the State, said Rivers people are counting on their support and cooperation in this regard.
The party regretted that this spate of intimidation and harassment by soldiers is but a ploy orchestrated by the opposition APC to cause chaos and anarchy in the State, and create room for declaration of a state of emergency.
The PDP also used the media to appeal to the Presidency, the Inspector-General of Police and the GOC 6 Division of Nigerian Army, to call the soldiers in Rivers State to order and allow for peaceful, fair and transparent elections on Saturday.
Wike: No shaking, no matter gunboats
Gov Wike has made it clear that star wars launched against him do not move him and would not get him out of power. He declared that there is no way that the PDP can lose the Governorship and State Assembly elections because Rivers people are firmly with the party. Gov Wike further declared that the Governorship and State Assembly elections will be used to end the illegal activities of the political monster of Rivers State.
Speaking during a town hall meeting with leaders of Rivers East Senatorial District in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Gov Wike charged the people not to be intimidated by soldiers, as they have a duty to vote for him and other PDP Candidates on March 9, 2019.
He said: “There is no way that the PDP will lose Rivers State and they tell the world that the elections are free and fair.
“Even if we want to play politics, how would they explain to the International community that PDP lost to an unknown party that did not campaign.
“How many soldiers will they deploy to implement the rigging. I am not worrtied about their bringing more troops from Sokoto and Kafanchan , God is our security. During the Presidential and National Assembly elections, they struggled for 25 percent , but they did not get it”.
The governor said that Rivers State has passed the stage where a failed politician will direct the people on who to vote three days to the election. He said nobody will play God in Rivers State
He emphasised that Rivers people must stand firm to ensure the victory of the PDP on March 9, 2019.
“Nobody should be afraid, come out and vote for the the PDP. Your votes will be counted. Your votes will be protected”.
The governor urged Traditional Rulers to insist on credible polls across the state.
“We will win on Saturday because we know that God is with us. Those who think they have the power will face God. They want to disrupt the elections to instigate postponement. Do not fall into their hands”, he said.
He noted that the illegal arrests by the military will not stop the victory of the PDP during the Governorship and State Assembly elections.
“If they arrest 2000 persons, they will see more 10, 000. Our people should be security conscious about their movement because these people are very desperate “, the governor said.
Governor Wike noted that he has planted key projects in all the Local Government Areas of the state. He said after his re-election more projects will be executed for Rivers people.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Onueze Okocha said Governor Wike has done well and will be voted in for a second term. “Never mind, there are threats and many of us are listed for arrest, people of Rivers East will stand with you till you emerge victorious”.
Again, Wike briefs US diplomats
Gov Wike saw what would happen and engaged the international community early on. Now, he seems to have huge rapport with the US and the UK reps in Nigeria who have either relocated to the state or fly in every other day.
Thus, Gov Wike on Friday (March 8, 2019) met with the United States Consul-General to Nigeria, John Bray, and the Political Officer of the British High Commission in Nigeria, Louis Edwards.
The joint meeting which lasted about one hour, had the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, Deputy Governor Ipalibo Harry Banigo, Rivers State PDP Chairman, Felix Obuah, and the senator, Lee Maeba, in attendance.
The diplomats were said to have visited Governor Wike on the heels of mass arrests of PDP leaders by security agencies. The Rivers State Government and the PDP have issued several statements alerting the world on the illegal activities of security agencies ahead of the elections.
Governor Wike, according to his media aides, tabled the concerns of the government and people of Rivers State before the American Embassy and the British High Commission. At the end of the meeting, the diplomats declined comments as they left to continue with the 2019 Governorship and State Assembly elections in Rivers State.
APC too cries out over Wike’s Neighbourhood Watch Corps
The APC has found something to cry out about, too. A chieftain, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said late Friday that Wike’s neighborhood watch had gone on rampage, allegedly threatening and arresting APC leaders.
He described the group as Gov Wike’s private army that was banned by security agencies and said they now harass, intimidate and kidnap some key members of APC in Rivers State. He described the action as most unfortunate, disheartening and a threat not only to democracy but a plot tantamount to promotion of unrest in Rivers State
He said: “The illegal group armed to the teeth is now going about in full military attire ransacking the homes of some mapped out leaders of APC and threatening them not to venture to visit their homes for the 9th March polls unless they were bringing their various coffins for their burial.
“Those mapped and threatened are Dakuku Peterside, the DG NIMASA, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Netherlands, Oji Ngofa, Davies Ikanya, Tonye Princewill, Sokonte Davies, ED Marine and operations, Nigerian ports Authority, Chris Amadi, the NDDC EDFA, Asita Honourable Asita, Aso Weneh, Andrew Uchendu, George Tolofari, Chidi Lloyd, Victor Giadom, S. A. Ngeregbara, and many more. “The idea according to the sponsors of this group is that once these leaders are neutralised the reelection bid of Governor Nyesom Wike will sail effortlessly without any hitch.”
Eze in the press statement he personally signed and circulated to the media in Port Harcourt on Friday disclosed also that the life of the governorship candidate of the African African Alliance Congress (AAC), Awara Biokpomabo, the candidate adopted by the entire Rivers State people to replace Gov Wike as the next Governor of Rivers State is under threat as this group has threatened to kidnap him and cause him not to vote during the election thereby nullifying his candidature technically after the use of the court to stop him failed.
Eze highlighted that the group boasted that elections will not hold in the key areas where APC has its strongholds particularly in the Ikwerre Local Government where the Minister of Transportation and APC leader in South-South region hails from.
Eze maintained that the celebrated case of abductions of Ikenda Clinton parents last night and the unholy visit to the home of Emma Chinda by this group gives credence to the sinister plot against APC leaders in Rivers State.
Eze further stated that this group in their unwholesome and devious plot also intends to harass innocent citizens of Rivers State and turn around and attribute their atrocities to the army in order to tarnish the good image of the Nigerian Army. “Therefore, it becomes imperative that the security agencies posted to the State should up their game and secure Rivers state from the hands of these misguided elements”
The elections were set and the nation can only wait for the outcome of both the fighting and the voting.