Yesterday, 18th August 2018, the people of Port Harcourt constituency III came out in their numbers to vote for the person to represent them in the Rivers State House of Assembly.
2. At the last State Security Council meeting few days before the election, the State Commissioner of Police not only promised to provide adequate security cover for the bye-election to take place but also vowed that the Police will be completely neutral. He reiterated these promises at the press conference he addressed on the day before the election.
3. In my broadcast on the eve of the election, I conveyed the assurances given by the Commissioner of Police to secure and safeguard the entire constituency and urged the people of Rivers State to take them at their word this time around.
4. I also warned about the plan by some failed politicians who are not ready for a free and fair electoral contest to use cultists and political thugs to intimidate voters, disrupt the voting process and manipulate the outcome in the ensuing confusion.
5. Unfortunately, and as we had feared, the Police failed us completely once again and negated all that they promised. Instead of providing security for voters and INEC officials the Police brazenly colluded with political thugs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to subvert the democratic process and denied the people of Port Harcourt Constituency III their rights to free, fair and credible elections.
6. Confirmed reports from the field indicated that INEC promptly and rightly distributed elections materials to all the polling units within a recorded time.
7. However, while voting was underway, armed thugs from the APC led by the State’s factional Chairman, Mr. Flag Ojukaye Amachree moved freely from one polling unit to the other, violently assaulted voters and INEC officials and carted away election materials, including smart card readers and ballot boxes.
8. It is important to note that Ojukaye Flag Amachree who led the thugs is the same person facing multiple murder trial and instead of arresting him as ordered by the trial court, the Police has continued to aid and shield him from arrest and prosecution.
9. It is equally important to note that Ojukaye Flag Amachree and his thugs freely and easily overran the entire constituency and successfully disenfranchised the electorates with the active support, protection and guidance of heavily armed Police operatives from the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) and the Inspector General of Police’s Monitoring Unit.
10. Consequently, the thugs and their police accomplices successfully disrupted the bye-election in virtually all the 142 polling units across the 8 wards of the Constituency and caused bodily injuries to several innocent voters and INEC officials.
11. While we commend INEC for acting professionally, it is disheartening that this is not the first time the Police had directly taken sides and offered its services to the APC to undermine the electoral process in Rivers State.
12. Recall that following the widespread violence that erupted in the 2016 legislative re-run elections in Rivers State, the INEC Panel Report (at page 66) indicted the security agencies as brazen election riggers and singled out the F-SARS Commander Mr. Akin Fakorede as the arrowhead of the violence and rigging that characterized those elections.
13. On Saturday, the press release by the Resident Electoral Commissioner has again indicted the Police as the direct perpetrators of the violence and disruptions of the electoral process in Port Harcourt.
14. This situation is worrisome. If the Nigerian Police cannot secure and guarantee the peaceful and successful conduct of election in a single State Constituency of 8 wards, then what will happen in 2019 when they would be contending with 319 electoral wards and 4442 polling units across 23 Local Government Areas of the State?
15. It should be noted that there was no single incidence of violence in the entire State in the last local government elections, in which the APC refused participate.
16. What is clear from all these acts of bad behavior is that the Nigerian Police has since become entrenched as an interested party in the politics of Rivers State and therefore can no longer be trusted to participate as an impartial institution in the State’s electoral process.
17. Above all, the consistent sabotage of the electoral process by the Police amounts to a declaration of war against the people of Rivers State and their solemn rights to freely and fairly choose their leaders and representatives.
18. Clearly there are dangerous times ahead but we must not give in to intimidation lest we loose our liberties and become slaves in our own land.
19. Against the backdrop it is up to the people of Rivers State to choose the option that will serve their interest.
20. Finally, I cannot end this broadcast without extending my gratitude to the people of Constituency III who, in the face of brazen provocation by the police and the APC thugs, remained calm and law abiding.
21. Your patience has thoroughly exposed the true enemies of Rivers State and by the grace of God, we will defeat them in 2019 for as long as we remain resolute in our determination to defend our rights to be free.
22. Thank you and may God bless Rivers State.