Rivers state government has again resonated in private and public discourse. This followed the shocking findings in a probe instituted by the Inspector General of Police,IGP, Ibrahim Idris over alleged dastardly acts committed by politicians at the December 10, 2016legislative rerun elections in the state. According to the joint investigative panel report which was presented to the IGP, recently in Abuja, six police officers and 23 officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC were allegedly found culpable over alleged electoral offences as well as other violent acts during the rerun parliamentary polls which were held across the state late last year. The panel, among other findings, said it recovered the sum of N111.3million from millions allegedly paid by the Government of Rivers to INEC officials to influence results in favor of PDP candidates. The panel tagged the recoveries as exhibits. Presenting the report, leader of the 15-man team, a deputy commissioner of police, Damian Okoro, accused the Rivers state government of inducing the affected INEC staff with the money. He explained that the monies were shared in order of seniority, with senior electoral officers parting with a millionNaira each while their 20 subordinates smiling home, also with a million each. “There were however some cases of misconduct on the part of some electoral and law enforcement agents who according to him unfortunately allowed themselves to be used to compromise the electoral process. He recommended such persons for appropriate discipline and sanctions. Other than monies recovered from a litany of electoral infractions uncovered by the committee, MrOkoro, further admitted that there was failure of leadership and followership as against law enforcement. He attributed these factors to being highly responsible for the political upheaval in the state. Receiving the report, IGP Idris, on his part, commended the team and promised to forward the report to the Attorney General and Minister of justice for further action. He stated that the monies recovered will be forfeited and paid to government coffers, while the affected INEC staff and six police personnel previously indicted will be prosecuted according to the laws of the land. But in a swift reaction, Rivers government denied the allegation in its entirety and described the report as sheer blackmail. State commissioner for information and communication, Dr Austin Tam- George, said the allegation was shameful, defamatory and reckless in the extreme. “Never in the annals of infamy have we seen a vital state security institution descend to the lowest depths of blackmail and criminality, as the Nigerian Police Force has done in this case” he said. According to him, “a month ago, we alerted the world to the dark Orwellian plot by Nigeria police to implicate Governor Wike in a phony bribe scandal. Now the Police appear to be acting with shocking predictability by making wild and completely groundless allegations against Wike” The Rivers state government, he cautioned, challenges the Nigerian Police to show proof that Governor Wike financially induced any official of INEC, pointing that it was of the opinion that the panel was part of a bitter, politically-driven smear campaign launched by the federal government against Governor Wike and the Rivers people. Expectedly Nigerians were not amazed at the eventual outcome of the report. From
the hasty manner in which the panel was put together, the secret trial it carried out on the INEC staff, the bias in the whole exercise, which targeted only the PDP, its members, the governor’s and activities of Rivers government, without even mention of the APC, activities of its members, their roles and those of the gladiators and the three musketeers during the election, as one of the terms of reference further shows absolute bias with this outcome expectedly so. Coming against this background, it is imperative to ask why the police did not expose its personnel and those of sister security agencies who allegedly openly worked for the APC by snatching and stuffing ballot boxes. The PDP has these weighty evidences, and if the whole probe exercise is to find lasting solutions to the often heated Rivers polls, and if we may ask why make it a one-sided exercise? This is where we first fault and disagree with the whole concept of the investigation, abinitio. Again, why did the team carry out its exercise in clandestine atmosphere, for instance, trying or screening the INEC official in secret?How were these information or evidence extracted from the affected INEC staff, bank officials and those it interrogated? Where they tortured, was information freely given without intimidation, as the probe, weighty and significant as it ought to be needed to be conducted in the open, at least under the watch of the media. Similarly we see it as a fundamental error on the side of the security agency the brazen display of the so-called recovered money. What did the police try to achieve by this puerile conduct? Does this not portray the country as too lousy and unserious to bring out such colossal sums on display before the rest of the world?. We see that aspect too trivial and we are therefore calling on the IGP to further direct the committee to look at all allegations raised against the APC, the federal government security agencies of which the police he heads is allegedly culpable in the Rivers rerun elections , for equity sake. What’s more, it must constitute a team to investigate all allegations brought against the APC, in past elections in Edo, Ondo, where the party allegedly induced voters with monies brazenly at polling booths. Furthermore, it should direct its search light on the campaign funds of President Buhari in the last general elections which is still a subject of urgent national importance. Regrettably why we still see Rivers as a hot bed and red zone of electoral violence in the manner security agencies and the federal government have acted unfairly against Governor Wike, the ruling PDP and the Rivers people, the Police report has done less to solve the crisis at hand, in this particular instance, rather it only amplified the alreadyexisting illfeelings among the political gladiators. We however state unequivocally that rather than stoke further embers of hatred among the warring parties, let future government probes or commissions aim at bringing Amaechi, Wike and their supporters together for peace and progress of Rivers people. God gives power and not man and for now power resides with Governor Wike and the PDP, the APC must respect this and wait for the next election in 2019 to test its popularity and not through phony and phantom probes which are capable of overheating the polity instead of calming or cooling it.

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