A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers state, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has deplored recent verbal assault and demeaning representation by the State government and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), of some Rivers elder statesmen who recently called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the ongoing political crisis in the State.
Some well-meaning elders of the state, led by former Governor of the State, Chief Rufus Ada-George, four-time Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alabo T. O. Graham-Douglas, HRH Alabo Prof D.M.I. Fubara , Chief Sampson Agbaru, Rear Admiral O. Fingesi, former member of Supreme Military Council, Group Captain (Rrd.) J. I. Ben-Kalio, had in a letter to President Buhari, requested that the President urgently take steps to salvage the state from impending bloodshed, likely to be occasioned by the political standoff in the State.
However, in reaction to the call by the elder statesmen, which has been hailed by majority of Rivers people, the state government, under the watch of Chief Nyesom Wike as governor, and his party, the PDP, have come down hard on the elders, describing them and their interventionist role in some of the ugliest adjectives.
But reacting to the attacks by the state government and the PDP on the elders, Chief Eze, in a statement circulated in Port Harcourt on Thursday, berated Governor Wike and the leadership of his party, the PDP for paying the good intents of the patriotic elders of the state back with such unkindness, asserting that it is the governor, in connivance with corrupted elements of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that are perfecting plans to subject Rivers people to another round of needless unrest and bloodbath with their unholy alliance to foist Wike back on the people of the State by manipulating election results in his favour.
Eze, a critical stakeholder in the politics of Rivers state, wondered what the crime of the elders was in their plea for the intervention of President Buhari to avoid bloodbath in the state, to have warranted the type of attacks and unprintable names that the State government and leadership of the PDP had subjected them to since their letter was made public.
“These great sons of Rivers State who have distinguished themselves in their services to the state and Nigeria as a whole, in their historic letter to Mr President exposed how INEC, through her dubious and compromised Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Obo Effanga, perfected plans to sabotage and subvert the will of the people of Rivers state and suggested ways out of the present political quagmire which the leadership of INEC has put Rivers state into”, Eze said.
He regretted that the pattern of gangsterism in governance, where any opinion divergent from that of Governor Wike becomes reason for attack and dehumanisation of such a person, not minding the status of such a person in the society, according to him, is no longer welcomed in the politics of Rivers state, requesting that the governor and the PDP leadership should not only restrain themselves from further attacks on the persons and personalities of the elders, but should formally apologise to them for the unbecoming words used on them.
On the suspension of the governorship and House of Assembly elections midway in Rivers state by the INEC and its plan to resume collations in April, Eze expressed disappointment in the conduct of the electoral umpire, saying that the action in itself was unconstitutional and had contaminated any good intents in the process, which intent he claimed never existed in the first place as all fingers, according to him, had pointed towards the corruption of the INEC by Governor Wike and the feverish attempt by the electoral umpire to do anything to justify whatever the governor had paid to ensure he is rigged back as Governor.
He said the people of the state would reject the process as proposed by INEC because it had contravened Nigeria’s laws, adding that the electoral umpire had also given reasons for the Rivers electorate to suspect its motives when it released a heavily and obviously one-sided report of its findings on the election in the state, conspicuously ignoring protests by primary participants in the process as well as leaving out the grave invasion of a collation center by Governor Wike, where he forceful disrupted an ongoing process, kidnapped election materials as well as INEC official to the Government House and presided over the shooting of soldiers by his own escorts.
“On the INEC proposed collation of gubernatorial elections in affected, albeit unnamed local government areas, aptly exposed how Governor Wike has messed up the present leadership of INEC.
“The fact remains that nobody is interested in whatever INEC is plotting In Rivers state as the commission has not explained why it suspended the collations of results in the state, contrary to the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and INEC electoral act. INEC has already created constitutional crisis by abusing public powers and ordering a suspension that wasn’t contemplated by any law known to Nigeria, certainly not Section 26 of the Electoral Act of 2010 as amended, by any stretch of interpretation.
“INEC must take responsibility for its acts of illegality. We reject the impunity with which they are marching towards the announcement of a concocted aberration they’ve called results.
“INEC must appreciate the fact that the moment the illegal suspension took effect, it ignited a constitutional crisis and that can’t be remedied by the arrogance they’re exhibiting. INEC cannot disregard protests from parties directly affected by their ultra vires suspension: it insults our democracy”, he said.
“Result Sheets are the most sensitive documents in an election, and it requires special protocol to manage: they’re delivered to the Central Bank, from where they’re transported to the various local government areas and the moment it is opened, the process continues to the announcement of the sacred contents – results.
“The Law never contemplated a situation where the integrity of the Result Sheets would be compromised or kept in a manner vulnerable to compromise – as is the case where it is exposed that the said results that INEC claims to be in their custody is actually the results it concocted with the outgoing Governor Wike at the Rivers state Government House
“If it is this result that INEC intends to announce by April 5th , let me reiterate that nobody is interested in such a useless concoction. Having stopped a legitimate process propelled by law, a state of illegality ensued, and no further directive, thereupon, can be lawful, except the declaration of a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Just as INEC lacks the powers to suspend an ongoing process, it further lacks the powers to resume from such suspension. Such resumption is unknown to our law, and amounts to abuse of public powers with impunity.
“The sequence of the electoral process is statutorily outlined and suspension is not contemplated in the sequence, and in this case, it is an irredeemable violation of an extant procedure. It is irredeemable because resumption from suspension is neither regulated nor recognized by our Law. Without statutory recognition INEC is handicapped in the circumstance. I therefore put it to INEC that their announcement of resumption insults our democracy with impunity.
“It is saddening that INEC has failed to remove her REC who is the main source of her problems in Rivers state and refused to address how Governor Wike stormed the Obio-Akpor collation centre with over 200 fake army, where he arrested all the electoral materials and authorised the shooting of two genuine army officers that are currently in the hospital.
“Rivers state and her people can only take INEC seriously when it explains its illegality in suspending a peaceful collation of results exercise if not to alter the results to favour the rejected Governor Wike, why should Wike disrupted collation of results at Obio-Akpor”, Eze queried.
Eze commended the National Working Committee of APC for standing by Dr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and the APC Leadership in Rivers State for adopting AAC for the 9th March polls. According to the party through her National Publicity secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, “Whatever Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has done in Rivers State, is completely normal & acceptable by this party”. This once again bring to question the activities of senator Abe who is doing everything to foist Wike on the people of Rivers State contrary to the position of the party and I still wonder why he shouldn’t be sanctioned accordingly.
Eze blasts Wike for rubbishing governance in Rivers State by compromising institutions and individuals and making mockery out of governance in Rivers State by his father Xmas approach to governance by his futile attempts to buy off members of the opposition political parties in Rivers State
Eze pleads with President Buhari and security agencies not allow Wike and his cohorts in INEC to subvert the mandate given to Engr Awara of AAC and plunge the State into unmitigated crisis that may collapse our nascent democracy. Rivers State people have embarked upon several peaceful demonstrations these part few days to ask that the compromised INEC REC be removed before embarking upon on any further process in the State but sadly nobody seems to be interested in all our cries and pleas.
Finally, Eze counseled Governor Wike to discountenance his dream of governing Rivers state beyond May 29th, reason for which he had allegedly been compromising institutions and individuals, as well as sponsoring propaganda, as none of such acts, according to him, can save the governor this time around, saying “he lost the election the very day INEC unlawfully suspended the electoral processes. He should allow peace to prevail by congratulating Engr Biokpomabo Awara, who has roundly defeated him in the polls”.