My dear people of Rivers State
Recall that the last Local Government election was hurriedly conducted in the dying days of the previous government, precisely on the 23rd of May 2015, one week before the end of their term in office.
2. Apart from the timing, the ill-fated elections was conducted in flagrant disobedience of a valid and subsisting restraining order from the Port Harcourt Division of the Federal High Court. Consequently, on the 22nd of July 2015, the Federal High Court found the election as illegal, sacked the purportedly elected officials and dissolved the Councils for being products of unlawful electoral process.
3. Since then, it has been impossible to conduct a fresh Local Government election in the State because of the ongoing legal challenge mounted by the sacked chairmen and their political party over the validity of the cancellation of the said election by the lower court.
4. However, after three years of legal vacillation it is now clear that the subject matter or fundamental interest of the claimants in that case has practically been wasted by effluxion of time and whatever remedies derivable by the parties, if any, can only be nominal.
5. While the legal challenge continues, the people of Rivers State are denied their rights to freely elect officers to run the Councils democratically. However, as things stand now, we have no other choice but to conduct the local government election and allow democracy to settle and thrive once again at the grassroots and drive the development of our communities.
6. It was on this strength that I directed the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RVSIEC), to initiate the process of conducting the Local Government election in the 2nd quarter of 2018 so that the Councils can properly be constituted to discharge their constitutional responsibilities to the people.
7. In compliance with this directive, RVSIEC has since started the process and fixed the local government election in the State for next Saturday the 16th of June 2018.
8. I can confirm to you that the election will take place as scheduled in all the 4442 units, 319 wards and 23 local government areas of the State as there is no legal obstacle significant enough to warrant otherwise.
9. Let me therefore appeal to all registered voters to turn out in their numbers to vote for the candidates of their choice. This is a civic responsibility you must exercise in order to rekindle the touch of democracy, good governance and accountability in the local government system.
10. I am very pleased with the information that 67 out of the 68 registered political parties have fielded candidates for the elections and are therefore participating.
11. I am equally pleased with the assurances from RVSIEC that it is ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections come Saturday June 16, 2018. For us, this is an irreducible minimum and we demand nothing less as Government will hold the Commission strictly accountable for any acts or omissions that compromise the integrity of both the process and the elections.
12. While we are ready to support the security agencies to secure the State and ensure that the elections are peaceful, we are minded to call on the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their agents to refrain from their plan to cause mayhem and disrupt the elections in the following Local Government areas:
· Akuku Toru
· Asari Toru
· Opobo, and
13. The arrowheads of this satanic plot, the State Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Mr. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, the former Commissioner of Agriculture, Mr. Emmanuel Chinda and the current Nigeria’s Ambassador to Netherlands, Ambassador Oji N. Ngofa are recruiting and arming political thugs with guns to be deployed on the eve of the election to create an atmosphere of insecurity create in these and other local government areas and scare voters to shun the polling stations.
14. Mr. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree is a double murder suspect who has refused to submit himself to trial. Yet, this fugitive to justice recently emerged as a factional State chairman of his party against a court order and is now emboldened by the protection he is getting from the Police and the Federal Government to engage in subversive activities against the interest and people of Rivers State.
15. In the light of the these dangerous threats from Ojukaye and co-travellers therefore, I wish to call on the security agencies, especially the Nigerian Police to live up to their primary responsibility of providing adequate security for the election and deal decisively with those who may attempt to disturb the peace, order and security of the State before, during and after the election.
16. Thankfully, I have received concrete assurances from the heads of all the security agencies that they have put adequate measures to secure the peace and ensure orderly conduct of the election and we shall hold them personally and professionally accountable should the contrary be experienced in the State.
17. Community leaders and members of the public should be on the watch out and report suspicious characters and movements in their localities and neighbourhoods to the law enforcement agencies for immediate action.
18. Also, the security agencies have definite instructions to strictly enforce the restrictions on human and vehicular movement on Election Day and arrest any person or group of persons that violate this order. All those who have no official business with conducting the election should therefore stay away from the polling units after casting their votes or risk arrest and prosecution.
19. Finally, I urge leaders of political parties and their candidates to advise their supporters and agents to peacefully conduct themselves during and after the election.
20. Thank you and may God bless Rivers State