– Campaign Council Chairman says his Abonnema home now under military siege
– Army, APC wave off allegations
Fears that elections may not hold in Rivers State if the APC was not on the ballot may be proving real as the PDP which felt comfortable to win is now saying forces have stirred up to scuttle the elections.
Tension thus emerged in ahead of the Saturday February 23, 2019 elections as a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and chairman of the Rivers PDP Campaign Council has cried out saying soldiers from 6 Army Division in Port Harcourt have taken over his home in Abonnema town.
This is as most Rivers people now appear utterly apprehensive whether the Saturday, February 23, and March 9, 2019 elections would hold or not due to threats and counter threats by the two rival political parties in the state and charges of show of force on the part of some security agencies.
The PDP in the state says it is ready to test strength at the polls on Saturday but the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) has since threatened that if their party will not be allowed on the ballot, there would be election in the state.
Now, the PDP Campaign Council headed by the chairman of the Greater PH city Development Authority, an architect, Ferdinand Alabraba, has said his home is now under military occupation.
In a crowded press conference in Port Harcourt Tuesday afternoon, the Director-General of the Campign Council, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to South Korea, Desmond Akawor, who is the Administrator of the Greater PH City Development Authority, said evidence has emerged that the Army and SARS have teemed up with the APC to stop the elections, just as he said APC had threatened through Tonye Princewill .
The DG recalled the three times he said the Kalabari prince publicly stated that elections will not hold in Rivers State as long as the APC was not allowed to contest. He said Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, sang a war song in the presence of President Muhammadu Buhari last week warning that it is time for war.
Akawor said: “We have started witnessing concerted efforts by the APC, INEC and the security agencies, especially the Nigerian Army and the Police to actualize both the intent and content of the dangerous agenda of the APC to truncate the electoral processes in the State, as we get closer to the election dates.”
He mentioned instances of movement of soldiers and clampdown on PDP leaders in some local council areas of the state. “Indeed, in Okrika Local Government Area, indigenes and residents were physically barred by masked gun-trotting soldiers from returning home as early as 6.00 p.m. on Friday 15th February 2019 on the directives of the General Officer Commanding the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Jamil Sarham.”
He particularly mentioned an incident at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) where he said the Army general prevented INEC from distributing materials to the LGAs. “We are also aware that the military has planned to cordon off collation centres across the State and prevent PDP agents’ access to these centres in order to rig the rescheduled elections on Saturday February 23 2019. Furthermore, information available to us indicates that APC has procured armed thugs, military uniforms and branded military and police vehicles for the purpose of rigging the rescheduled elections.”
The APC said meetings held at a minister’s house in Abuja that were intercepted showed sinister plans to be unleashed on Rivers State. The PDP called on Nigerians and the international community to intervene. The party however warned that no one had monopoly of violence, saying it is capable of mobilizing the people to action to vote.
Reacting, the Army spokesman, a colonel, Aminu iliyasu, said it had no business with election riging. “For the avoidance of doubt, as part of the NA’s constitutional responsibility of aiding civil authority and our mandate to safeguarding key Points and vulnerable points of our dear nation, troops of 6 Division NA were accordingly deployed and further reinforced at various locations including the CBN Port Harcourt where INEC deposits sensitive materials before, during and after elections. Brig Gen Najaja as the coordinator of all deployments was at the CBN Port Harcourt and other locations to assess the level of troops deployment and alertness. This deployment must have thwarted their sinister plans thereby making such frustrating statements.”
The publicity secretary of the APC, Chris Fineface, said; :We can only summarise that the PDP in Rivers State is doing exactly what the Holy Bible referred to as the guilty running when no one is pursuing.”
Another chieftain of the APC, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said; “Please ignore a Council that drinks falsehoods like water as we are not interested in joining issues with a frustrated group whose stock in trade is violence and rigging of elections. This time around, we are ready for them.” He said the Army and police have given the right response.