Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has accused Nigeria’s First Lady Patience Jonathan of being behind a rise in militancy in parts of the state, adding that the violence reflected designs by Mrs. Jonathan to rig the governorship election in order to control the affairs of the state.
Governor Amaechi made the allegation on Thursday while speaking to an audience at the Obi Wali International Conference Center in Port Harcourt, the state capital. He had called together some stakeholders to brief them on his administration’s plans for Saturday’s governorship and state legislative elections.
Mr. Amaechi said he had held a meeting with security operatives in the state who agreed to be fair to all during the polls, adding that there would be safety of lives and property.
He said the security operatives agreed “to design a mechanism on how to stop the attempt by militants and PDP thugs to snatch and hijack INEC materials during the Saturday polls.” Mr. Amaechi appealed to voters and party agents not to allow any hoodlums to take over the elections. “They can’t kill all of us. We are aware that militants and hired PDP thugs who claim to be loyalists to Mrs. Jonathan are planning mayhem. But the police and the military have assured the state government they will deploy more troops to guarantee safety and protection of lives and property,’ said the governor.
He added: “What I am assuring you now is security to come out and vote and to also say to INEC that we need the result sheets at the units and collation centers. Even if the staff they employed are all PDP members, but we still need the result sheets. We don't want anybody to force us on whom to vote. We want our votes to count. Let the wife of the president remain in her house and not force a candidate on us. The security [operatives] in our meeting with them assured us that votes will count and I hope they will keep to that.”
He told the audience that the PDP’s governorship candidate, Nyesom Wike, was welcome to “go ahead to abuse us as he wants, but the fight to ensure a free, fair and credible election is inevitable. Don’t be intimidated by these forces of darkness. The police and the military owe us a duty and responsibility to create a conducive atmosphere for our people to exercise their franchise. Your responsibility as citizens of this state is to come out en masse and vote.”
Governor Amaechi urged the gathering to support the Dakuku Peterside, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mr. Amaechi voiced dismay over thugs’ violent activities in the Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni local government area, and ordered the immediate ban of motorcyclists popularly called Okada in and around the local government until the conclusion of Saturday’s elections.
“We are all aware of the unlawful activities of militants and hired PDP thugs. The killings of APC supporters have become alarming and the security operatives have assured us of protection of lives and property,” said the governor. He added: “I want to call on all those living in Omoku and its environs to come out and vote. Security operatives have put in place crack teams to track down offenders. The intimidation by the police and military during the last presidential poll is over and will not repeat [itself].”
Governor Amaechi urged traditional rulers, politicians and opinion leaders to appeal to people to come out en masse and vote for the candidates of their choice.