The police and other security agencies have come under harsh bashing since violence marred the PH by-election into the Rivers State House of Assembly election. Now, the police command in the led by Ahmed Zaki has come out to defend its actions.
Gentlemen of the press! You are welcome to the Headquarters of the Rivers State Police Command.
Recall that on Saturday 18th August 2018, the Bye-Election to fill the vacancy created by the exit of the Honourable Member representing PHALGA Constituency III in the House of Assembly.
In line with Police Standard Practice, an Operation Order detailing our deployments was drawn up. This was to ensure that the Bye-Election was hitch free and devoid of violence.
On the Election day proper, adequate deployments were made, the Police and other sister security agencies together were able to establish adequate presence of security all the areas where the Election was billed to take place.
2. Restriction of movement was made in the affected areas covering PHALGA Constituency III. Also, strategic deployments were made at both the entry and exit points to the State.
3. Election commenced peacefully at about 0900hrs in all the areas with accreditation and voting.Voting ended peacefully in many areas as reported by the various DPOs deployed to oversee security at the wards.
4. However, information at the Command’s disposal, revealed the presence of political thugs at Miles II and III who were reportedly armed and were disrupting the voting process. The Police in the wake of this information immediately deployed more personnel and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to safeguard the election process, lives and property which was done most professionally.
5. The INEC officials who appeared to have been intimidated by the thugs were reassured by our presence. Accordingly, our counter measures against the thugs and the thuggery they exhibited, calmed the situation and the INEC officials left with some of the Election materials and subsequently suspended the entire process.
6. I want to make it abundantly clear that the Police in conjunction with other Sister Security Agencies stoutly stood their grounds and prevented a situation that would have degenerated to wanton destruction of lives and property. Similarly, I wish to reiterate that the Police did not at anytime collude with any political party to discredit the political process as alleged in some quarters.
We have remained committed and steadfast in the face of threats and seeming risks to the lives of our personnel and persons deployed for Elections. It must be emphasized that the timely action of the Police in checkmating political thugs prevented the loss of lives. Unlike all previous elections in the State, no life was lost in the Saturday election and no property was burnt. Meanwhile, we are consulting with all stakeholders, including INEC to determine inter alia:
i. The perpetrators of the disruption carried out on 18/8/18 during the Bye-Election.
ii. To arrest all persons fingered to have played any negative role that led to the termination and suspension of the electoral process.
iii. To charge all persons found culpable in the infamous act, to court, no matter how highly placed as revealed through our diligent investigation process.
iv. To identify any loopholes that may have been occasioned, as a result of the conduct of the bye-election.
v. To re-visit the issue of Very Important Personalities (VIPs) and politicians moving around with their security details and accordingly treat such violators, including their orderlies as having flagrantly violated the clear provisions of the Electoral Act and will be dealt with accordingly.
Lastly, let me assure you that the Command under my watch will continue to respect all known democratic values in ensuring a smooth electioneering process. We shall remain focused, neutral and professional in the discharge of our core mandate.
(CP at Press Conference in PH)