- Army Major shot dead, 2 soldiers injured
- APC, PDP trade blame
- Court restrains military from deploying soldiers
Imminent fear and apprehension have enveloped the entire landscape of Rivers State, ahead of Saturday’s State and National Assembly rerun elections, following the spate of killings and violence that have kept the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC members at daggers-drawn.
The leadership of the South-South zone of the PDP, yesterday, warned that any attempt by the All Progressives Congress, APC-led federal government to rig Saturday’s rerun elections in the state will lead to anarchy in the region.
The warning came on the heels of an attack, yesterday by unknown gunmen on men of the Nigerian Army who were on duty at Abonnema, Akuku_Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, killing a Major and another soldier. Also affected in the attack were two other soldiers who were injured during the ambush.
Nigerian Pilot gathered that the soldiers were ambushed by the unknown gunmen around 11am while they were on routine duty.
The attack came less than 48 hours after the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, DIG Sotonye Wakama, warned that security agents were prepared to battle any unrest during the rerun elections on Saturday.
Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Captain Eli Lazarus, in a statement confirming the incident, said an officer and a soldier died in the gun duel.
He said: “About 11am today, Thursday, March 17, troops on patrol in Abonnema, had a fierce encounter with a group of unknown gunmen suspected to be sea pirates.
“Our troops displayed extraordinary valour. Unfortunately, an officer, and a soldier, who sustained various degrees of injury during the encounter, lost their lives. We are in pursuit of the criminals and will surely get them.”
The State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, also alleged an attempt by the Police High Command to arrest the State PDP Chairman, Brother Felix Obuah 48 hours to the rerun elections, which he described as politically motivated, aimed at giving advantage to the APC.
The Governor also said that by declaring the Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area , Sabomabo Jackrich wanted few days to the elections, the police might have been influenced by political considerations.
Speaking in Port Harcourt yesterday during a radio phone-in programme, Governor Wike said “the planned politically motivated arrest of the PDP chairman will be resisted by the people”.
Court restrains military from deploying soldiers
As expected, Justice George Omereji of the State High Court has issued an interim order restraining the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and the Brigadier General of 2 Brigade Bori Camp Barracks, Port Harcourt, the military from involvement in the Saturday March 19, 2016, national and state legislative rerun election.
Also restrained to use the military in monitoring the elections are the former Governor of the State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Independent National Electoral Commission, Residential Electoral Commissioner, Government of Rivers State and Government of Nigeria.
The order reads: “That an order of interim injunction be and hereby made restraining the former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi, Independent Electoral Commission and the Resident Electoral Commissioner from the use of and deployment of the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and the Brigadier General of the Bori Camp Barracks, their agents, servants, officers or operatives to conduct, monitor and supervise the forthcoming legislative rerun elections in Rivers State on March 19, 2016.”
The order was issued on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 after the Peoples Democratic Party and its State Chairman, Felix Obuah, filed a motion in suit Number PHC/601/2016, seeking to restrain Amaechi, and others from using the Military to monitor the election.
Rigging’ll lead to anarchy, PDP warns
Leadership of the South-South zone of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday warned that any attempt by the All Progressives Congress, APC-led federal government to rig Saturday’s rerun elections in Rivers State will lead to anarchy in the region.
This warning was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja yesterday by PDP South-South Zonal Vice Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh.
He said the PDP is aware of desperate plot by the federal government to use the military and security operatives to subvert the will of the people and manipulate the outcome of the election in favour of APC candidates.
Dr Ojoughoh who called on the PDP supporters in the State “to defend their votes, obey all civil rules, avoid anything that can led to confrontation with the Military urged them to “ stand firmly to collate their results at the polling units and follow it up to the collation centres.
According to him, “any attempt to rig the election will not only led to anarchy but a crisis whose end cannot be determined by anybody.”
The statement reads in part: “It has come to the notice of the PDP South-South that the APC government plans to rig the River State Government re run elections.”
Saraki sues for peaceful elections
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, yesterday, urged the various stakeholders in the Saturday National and State legislative rerun elections in Rivers State to ensure that the poll is free, fair, credible and violence-free.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu in Abuja, Saraki said it is high time the country moved away from turning election into event for bloodletting.
Saraki said: “Election days are supposed to mark the renewal of mandates and advancement of democracy which has been rightly defined as the ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people’. Therefore, it is trite that no position or interest being canvassed during the poll is worth the blood of any Nigerian.
“It is time to put an end to unnecessary waste of human lives during electioneering process. What we have lost to various conflicts across the country in recent time is not only unfortunate but unacceptable. We cannot afford to deepen the malaise we suffer as a nation,” he said.
Saraki specifically appealed to the security agencies deployed for the poll, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, candidates, political parties and the electorate to adhere strictly to rules and regulations underpinning the conduct of elections so as to prevent any breakdown of law and order.
He urged the security agencies to be civil and firm in dealing with the people, INEC officials to ensure free, fair and credible elections and the people of Rivers State to be peaceful and orderly before, during and after the elections.
“There is certainly nothing we can gain from attacking our brothers and sisters during an election. Besides, no meaningful development can evolve in an atmosphere devoid of peace.
“This is the more reason every stakeholder in the Rivers State rerun elections should contribute to ensure peace so that those who will emerge from the elections as representatives of the people can find an environment conducive enough to serve the people,” he stated.