The police panel, probing the violence that rocked the December 10, 2016, legislative rerun in Rivers State, may treat the telephone conversation between Governor Nyesom Wike and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayodele Fayose, as an additional exhibit in the investigation.
It was gathered on Thursday in Abuja that the panel, set up by the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, would also conduct a forensic audio analysis of the audio to establish the roles played by Wike in the violence that marred the polls in which two police officers were beheaded and their heads thrown into a river.
A source familiar with the ongoing probe stated that the audio of the conversation between Wike and Fayose, which was leaked online on Thursday, was of interest to the panel members.
He said, “The panel is definitely interested in the new audio because it may help investigators to identify the masterminds of the violence that marred the election. It may be presented to the experts carrying out the forensic analysis on the previous audio tape to see how they all relate together.”
The Force spokesman, Donald Awunah, could not be reached for comment as he did not respond to calls to his mobile on Thursday while he had yet to respond to an SMS as of the time of filing this report.
In the telephone call, Fayose congratulated Wike on the Peoples Democratic Party victory in the rerun polls, praising the Rivers State governor for his courage in daring the soldiers on election duty to visit a collation centre during the polls.
Wike, in his response, dismissed the military, saying, the “Nigerian Army does not exist again now.”
The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, however, dismissed the mockery of the soldiers in the audio tape.
“Both know that the Nigerian Army exists,” he replied in a text message.
But the Ekiti State Governor, in his reaction to the leaked audio, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to resign because he had failed Nigerians who voted him into power.
He said this in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, on Thursday.
Explaining that the exchanged rate was now $1 to N500 under Buhari, Fayose lamented that there “is unprecedented hunger in the land”.
“It is better for the President to resign because he appears not to have the capacity for positivity. If all the presidents that ruled before Buhari had behaved like he is behaving now, he himself will be in jail,” he said.
He accused the Department of State Services of recording telephone conversations of Nigerians perceived as critics of Buhari-led All Progressives Congress government.
Specifically, he accused the DSS of editing the conversations and leaking same to Sahara Reporters, which according to him, has now become the official propaganda platform of the Federal Government.
Fayose, who said he was not bothered by the new audio clip, advised the Federal Government to provide food for Nigerians and save the lives of those that were being killed in Southern Kaduna and other places, “rather than sitting down and be monitoring peoples phones.”
The governor stated, “If the President and his hatchet men in the DSS, EFCC and other Federal Government’s agencies do not know what to do other than to record phone conversations of their perceived political foes, they should just resign and save the country from this harrowing experience.”
He alleged that the DSS recorded telephone conversations of Nigerians and leaking them to Sahara Reporters.
He described the alleged trend as the height of political rascality, manipulation, oppression, suppression and irresponsibility by agents of the Federal Government that were trying so hard to cover up the crimes they perpetrated against the people of Rivers State.
“They should even go beyond tapping of my lines and come to live with me in Ekiti Government House so that they can do per seconds live recordings of whatever I say because in the year 2017, by the grace of God, I will still say more without apology,” he said.
Fayose said for the first time since democracy returned to the country in 1999, Nigerians were celebrating Christmas and the New Year with hunger and sufferings beyond measure.
He added, “Rather than tackling hunger and the country’s economic woes, they have embarked on diversionary tactics with irrelevant stories of governors Wike and Fayose’s phone conversations, governors who do not bear arms and have no control over any security apparatus.
“I knew it before now that telephone conversations of prominent Nigerians, especially National Assembly members and opposition figures are being monitored, but I have remained unperturbed in my resolve to play my roles in rescuing Nigeria from the jaws of tyranny, which the present APC Federal Government represents.”
Also, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Dr. Austin Tam-George, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview that the state government would no longer dignify SaharaReporters with any response.
“I am sorry, but the state government will no longer dignify Saharareporters with any more response,” Tam-George said.