Friday October 2, 2015 will remain evergreen in the annals of the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal. It was a day that falsehood took flight in the face of reality and the legal team of the Rivers State APC fizzled into panic mood as they witnessed their castle in the air evaporate before their eyes.
Also on Saturday, October 3, 2015, the Rivers State Commander of the Department of State Services, DSS, for the April 11 Governorship election, Mr Emmanuel Phillips declared that the Election was peaceful without any report or observation of violence during the exercise. He led the DSS operations for the entire Rivers State on April 11 and physically monitored the governorship election in 12 local government areas. Like the senior police officers, he explained that soldiers were only deployed to specific locations, not to polling units. He told the Tribunal that the junior DSS operatives invited by Rivers APC, lied on oath. Totality of his evidence; election held peacefully and successfully.
October 2 was a day that the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal subpoenaed two very senior police officers to clarify the situation on the testimonies of few soldiers, DSS personnel and mobile policemen invited by the APC to testify at the tribunal.
The two senior police officers are: Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Akuki Kenneth who was an Area Commander in charge of Bori Zonal Police Command comprising nine local government areas during the April 11 governorship election and Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Uche Mike Chukwuma who served as Divisional Police Officer for Ahoada East Local Government Area on election day.
As soon as ACP Kenneth took his oath at the witness stand, it became a case of fire on the mountain for the APC. The APC legal team raised a vehement objection urging the tribunal to stop the senior police officer from testifying. Lead counsel to APC, Akin Olujimi ( SAN ) appealed to the tribunal to rule that the ACP should tender his report and leave. He lost the battle to stop the witness of truth as the tribunal overruled him.
The truth that Rivers State APC feared the most hit them like thunderbolt on October 2. The two senior police officers declared in open court that the soldiers, DSS personnel and mobile policemen were mere fiction experts who concocted stories about an election they played limited roles in. They stated that the governorship election was peaceful in the 10 local government areas they monitored.
There was a mild drama in court at a point when CSP Chukwuma reeled out comprehensive data that baffled the lead counsel of Rivers APC. They accused him of reading from a prepared speech. He gave them the file that contained his subpoena and they studied same like pool merchants only to discover it was blank.
Testifying at the Tribunal on Friday, the Assistant Commissioner of Police who served in Rivers State during the governorship election confirmed that during his two-phased patrol, he observed that soldiers were only deployed to the border of the local government areas. He said no soldiers came to the polling units as it was reserved for the policemen and other conventional security agencies.
He said: “Within the period of my patrols, I saw soldiers in clusters at the borders of the local government areas. They were never at the polling units”.
He listed the local government areas under his supervision on election day to include; Khana, Gokana, Okirika, Ogu/Bolo, Eleme, Bonny, Opobo /Nkoro, Andoni and Tai. He said he monitored election in Khana, Gokana, Ogo/Bolo, Eleme, Okirika and Tai in two phases of the election, with no case of violence or threat to peace reported to him by the policemen on duty.
He added that in the riverine areas where he did not patrol, he received reports that the elections went on peacefully from the respective Divisional Police Officers. The local government areas are: Bonny, Opobo / Nkoro and Andoni.
He berated DSP Yusuf Buba of the Police Mobile Force for lying on oath before the tribunal as he was only deployed to the INEC office in Bori to provide security, hence he did not patrol.
He said that under the police disciplinary procedure, if DSP Buba Yusuf had moved out of his duty post he would have been sanctioned. He declared that DSP Buba never left his duty post, hence he lied when he claimed that he saw people engaged in illegal thumb printing. He said if the policeman had seen any illegal thumb printing, he would have arrested such persons.
He said in the course of his patrol on election day, he observed that there was no violence, accreditation took place and that he also observed voters on queue casting their ballot.
In his testimony, CSP Chukwuma said the election in Ahoada East LGA was peaceful as he monitored the entire council with two detachments of policemen. He said that his first phase of monitoring was held alongside the Electoral Officer of the area, Mrs Beauty Anuebunwa without any incidence of violence.
He explained that only unarmed policemen were deployed to polling units, pointing out that the 10 mobile policemen deployed to his local government area were with him on election day.
Commenting on the testimony by Police Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, Chisom Ezebuiro, the former Ahoada East Divisional Police officer said the APC witness played no part in the election as he only led the 63 mobile policemen for the entire Area Command which comprises 14 local government areas to Ahoada East. He said Ezebuiro thereafter said he was ill and remained at the base and did not monitor the election.
CSP Chukwuma declared that the mobile policeman lied as he was indisposed on Election Day.
Governor Wike has so far presented witnesses of truth to dispel the cloud of falsehood that the Rivers State APC imposed on Nigerians. Those who conducted the elections have testified. Those who maintained security have testified and those who voted have declared that they voted under a peaceful environment. The Rivers State APC made very wild and baseless allegations, but they forgot that the tribunal is not a television station. They forgot that they were under obligation to prove beyond reasonable doubt. All they did during their six days in court was to entertain Nigerians with cock and bull stories.
No amount of intimidation and illegal deployment of security personnel to the tribunal will save the day for misguided members of the higher authorities. Darkness will always give way to light.
Nwakaudu, Special Assistant (Media) to the Rivers State Governor wrote in from PH