Saturday, July 23, 2016 10:06 am
Okafor Ifiebor/Port Harcourt
Senator Magnus Abe, the candidate of All Progressives Congress APC, in the Rivers South East re-run election coming up next Saturday has alleged that the burning of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC office in Bori, Khana local government area of the state on Friday was inspired by provocative utterances of Governor, Nyesom Wike.
In a telephone interview with this magazine, Abe said “Each there is an election coming up in Rivers State, the Governor threatens INEC officials, security agencies and shortly after he had spoken, criminals translate his threats into action. This keep recurring and security agencies and the nation keep watching helplessly as houses of individuals, government agencies are attacked.
“That a Governor has immunity does not give him the impetus to ignite violence by his verbal threats. The other time, he asked people who are going to conduct election in the state to must first write their will. We all know what happened thereafter. My liaison office was burnt and a Corp member was killed and now this.”
Asked what could be the reason behind the fire on the INEC office in Bori, he said, “The aim is to intimidate and drive terror into minds of people so people will and this is very unfortunate”.
While confirming the incident, Omoni Nnamdi, the spokesperson of the Rivers Police Command said the fire incident which completely razed down Bori INEC headquarters area started at about 1am of Friday.
He added that the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained but a thorough investigation has been ordered to find out the remote and immediate cause of the incident while urging the public to assist the Police in their investigation with information.
However while reacting to the fire incident, Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Rivers State Chapter, Felix Obuah, in a statement said it was one of the plots of APC to ensure shift in date of re-run State and National Assemblies election scheduled for July 30.
Obuah, who spoke through a statement issued by PDP, observed that the burning of Bori INEC’s office was a pointer that the APC is not ready for the Re-run polls.
The PDP Chairman wondered why the APC would push their desperation for power to such extent of setting fire on the INEC office without justification.
“I wonder what the APC want to achieve by destroying the INEC office. They know that their candidates are not sellable, and therefore cannot win any free and fair elections in Rivers State”, Obuah said.
Attempts were also made to get the reaction from Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to Governor Nyesom Wike, but there was no response at the time of filing this report.
Khana local government is among the local governments that make up Rivers South East and Olaka Worgu is the candidate of PDP in the July 30 senatorial re-run election.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied allegations by Governor Wike that its National Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, had met secretly APC officials.
Wike had alleged that Yakubu met with APC Chairman in the state, Mr Davies Ikanya and Sen. Magnus Abe on Wednesday in Abuja.
He had alleged that the action of the commission was inimical to credible legislative rerun elections scheduled for July 30 in Rivers.
Deputy Director, Voter Education and Publicity in INEC, Mr Nick Dazang, admitted to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday that the meeting held but that it was a routine.
He said that it was INEC’s policy to meet with leadership of political parties involved in elections.
“The INEC Chairman with three National Commissioners and two directors met with a delegation of the APC led by its Deputy National Chairman.
“The meeting was routine and was earlier requested by the leadership of that party.
“Similar routine meetings between INEC and other parties had taken place at the INEC Headquarters.
“It is INEC’s policy and this is being strictly adhered to under Prof. Yakubu’s watch to avoid any suspicion or allegation of bias.
“The chairman meets leaders of political parties in the presence of the national commissioners.
“It is therefore not true that the meeting was secret as alleged by Gov. Wike or intended to favour the APC,’’ Dazang said.
He, therefore, expressed the commission’s commitment to credible elections.
“The commission is determined to conduct free, fair and transparent elections in Rivers by providing a level field and carrying all stakeholders along,’’ he said.