September 11, 2015

Rivers poll: Thugs ran away with election materials, Army tells tribunal


By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA—The Nigerian Army, yesterday, narrated before the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, how armed thugs invaded several polling units in the state on April 11, carting away election materials and ran into the bush.

Three senior Army officers who testified before the Justice Mohammed Ambrosa-led tribunal, yesterday, insisted that the governorship poll in Rivers State was marred by violence and sporadic gun shots by thugs, a situation they said scared voters away.

The officers, Captain Abubakar Mohammed, from Bony Camp, Lagos; Captain Fred Bala, from Maiduguri and Captain Isa Almakura, told the tribunal that they led different troops that were deployed in Rivers State during the governorship election.

Capt. Almakura, who covered Ikwerri Local Government Area, along with 30 other soldiers, told the court that the entire council was tensed up right from April 10 when his team arrived the area to provide security for voters.

He said that sporadic shootings in major towns of the council scared the electorates and forced them to stay away from voting.

According to him, at a time, his team got confused by the “bombardment of phone calls” from ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, who, he said were shouting for help and rescue from thugs that invaded their polling units.

“On our arrival at polling units in Osuala, Onuerelu, Omerelu and Alu, we found the INEC ad hoc staff, mainly youth corps members, mercilessly beaten by the thugs”, the Army witness added.

He said upon inquiry, his team was informed by the manhandled INEC ad hoc staff that the political thugs hijacked and made away with all the election materials.