By Kingsley Omonobi, Jimitota Onoyume, Davies Iheamnachor & Rotimi Ojomoyela
Army denies complicity in killings, rigging
•PDP, APC record mixed fortunes in early results
AS casualty figures from the bloody re-run national and state legislative elections in Rivers State rise, security authorities, yesterday confirmed that a Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, Alkali Mohammed was killed alongside his orderly, and both men beheaded, during an ambush by cultists at Uju community in Ogba Egbema Ndoni Local Government Area.
Community sources said some cultists allegedly held Uju community hostage on election day, thus preventing voting in the area. Policemen mobilised to engage them for the elections to hold, allegedly ran into an ambush mounted by the hoodlums.
Vanguard gathered that the cultists were those who did not embrace the amnesty programme in the local government area. The development brought the death toll in the re-run elections to five so far.
The DSP, who was leading about 12 Mobile Police officers of MOPOL 48 on election security duty, was said to have run into heavy gunfire from cultists.
Three of the Police officers escaped, while five officers were still missing in action. The attackers went away with the police patrol vehicle containing arms. Also, 16 members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC were abducted but later rescued.
The late DSP Mohammed was the son of a former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State between 2011 and 2012. His father, who is now retired was reportedly on election duty in Rivers State in 2011.
Given the bloody nature of the polls, Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, said it was a sad reflection of the level of havoc wreaked on the country’s electoral process by the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government.
“Free, fair and credible election is dead in the country and whatever victory that is recorded by any political party in the Rivers State election will be nothing but victory at gun-point,” he said.
With re-run elections ongoing in Akuku-Toru Local Government area in Wards 1,2,3,4, and 5, yesterday, having been suspended on Saturday when dynamites were freely detonated in the area, the APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, recorded mixed fortunes in some results announced so far.
Army denies complicity in killings, rigging
Giving security report and absolving security agencies of allegations of rigging and killings during the polls, the General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Major General Kasimu Abdulkarim, said in a statement: “The alleged killing and mass arrest by soldiers in Tai, Ogoni, Gokhna-Ogoni LGA of Rivers State were false. It is true that soldiers of 6 Division, Nigerian Army provided security during the Rivers State Legislative Re-run Election that was conducted Saturday.
“In addition, the allegations made by some respected politicians regarding deep involvement of soldiers during the elections were aimed at tarnishing the positive image of the Army. These people allegedly accused soldiers of ballot box snatching, illegal escorts of some politicians, arrest and detention of voters during the general conduct of the elections.
“The weighty nature of these allegations could cause members of the public to view soldiers negatively, hence the need to adequately inform the general public on the true perspective. The public thus need to consider them as mere farce to garner public sympathy.
“The 6 Division, Nigerian Army remained apolitical in the conduct of the election. Its soldiers provided perimeter defence to ward off hoodlums and miscreants. Nigerian Army troops were in no way involved in any form of ballot box snatching, neither were they involved in the escort of politicians as alleged.
“They acted swiftly in response to security breaches in order to enforce the law, provide aid to the Nigeria Police and other security agencies especially in areas like Abonema, Etche, Gokhana, Ikwere, Eleme, Tai, Khana and Omoku amongst others.
“Susceptibility of mentioned areas warranted providing security for the electoral officials, voters, international and local observers, in conjunction with other security agencies by soldiers for a peaceful election to thrive in the environment.
“These areas were rife with armed men that engaged security personnel. In Gokhana, armed hoodlums engaged the soldiers providing outer perimeter defence for the electorate. In Abonnema at 0730 hours Saturday, there were three explosions that created bedlam.”
Abduction of NYSC members
The statement continued: “Subsequently, 11 NYSC members were abducted along with electoral materials. However, 10 of them were rescued two hours later by soldiers while one was rescued about eight hours later.
“At Emohua, Mr Oblewaremu abducted five NYSC members with election materials in a Siena bus. The corps members were rescued while the suspect was handed over to the Police.
“Several shootings were recorded in some communities such as Bodo, the home town of the secretary to the State Government, B-dere and Mogho in Gokana LGA, including snatching of ballot boxes.
Ambush of policemen
“The most brutal incident occurred at Uju Community near Omoku in Onelga, where a police patrol team was ambushed. In the ambush, 10 policemen scampered into the bush.
“The Mobile Police organised a rescue mission. Regrettably, the team discovered that DSP Alkali Mohammed of Mobile Police Unit 48 was beheaded along with his orderly. The patrol vehicle was taken away with weapons, three policemen escaped while 5 were missing in action.
“This is the same area where soldiers of 34 Brigade were ambushed on November 20, 2016 where a soldier was killed. Also on November 21, 2016, four personnel of NSCDC were killed and their weapons carted away.
“These attacks are reasonable evidences of violations and breach of law and order, which portray the area as a flash point. Despite this barbarism, soldiers acted with civility and professionally guaranteeing peaceful election.
“Nigerian Army as a respected institution with constitutional responsibility to safeguard lives and property, could not watch miscreants and hoodlums abducting, maiming and killing innocent citizens especially in senseless attacks on uniform personnel.
“The Rivers State Re-Run Election was adjudged credible, free, fair and peaceful in many parts of the State. Accusations of soldiers’ partisanship, therefore, were a sham and phony. The Division would continue to maintain apolitical posture in discharge of its roles to ensure provision of adequate security in Rivers State.”
Abe floors Nwogu
From results announced so far, Senator Magnus Abe of the APC has been declared winner of the Rivers South-East Senatorial seat.
Abe defeated his main rival Senator Olaka Nwogu of the PDP.
Returning Officer for Rivers South East senatorial district, Professor Gideon Omekwusi, declared Senator Abe winner of the election.
According to him, Senator Abe scored 125,938 votes, Nwogu got 25,394 votes, Kingsley Okechukwu of LP scored 549, Okey Ude of NNPP scored 96 and Brown Elfreda of UDP scored 99. Omekwusi said of 154,703 total votes cast, 152,076 were valid.
Friday Nkeeh of the APC has been declared winner of Rivers State House of Assembly seat for Khana Constituency 2.
Nkeeh polled 15,000 votes to defeat Dinebari Loolo of the PDP who got 4,000 votes. For the Khana/Gokana House of Representatives seat, Maurice Pronen of the APC scored 68,219 votes to beat Dum Deekor of the PDP, who garnered cored 20,329 votes, according to Professor G.G Osuagu of Michael Opara University, the returning officer.
With 24,624 votes, Dr Innocent Barikor of APC was declared winner of the election in Gokana, state constituency.
Dr Barry Mpigi of APC was declared winner of Tai/Oyigbo/Eleme federal constituency. He polled 48,760 while his PDP challenger got 11,737 votes.
However, the PDP has been declared winner in the Senatorial election in Ogba Egbema Ndoni local government area.
The Collation Officer, Dr Olonrushola Omodamirun, disclosed this at the INEC office in Ahoada East local government area after collating results in 12 wards and 37 units in the local government area.
A breakdown of the results released showed the PDP had 4, 277 votes while the APC had 1,435 votes.
The Retuning Officer for Bonny state constituency Election, Ekoma Francis, announced the PDP candidate, Mr Abiye Pepple as winner of the elections for the state House of Assembly seat.
According to him, the APC candidate, Henry Amangi pulled 2,330 votes, while the PDP candidate Abiye Blessing got 6,610 votes.
In Omuma, the Returning Officer, Mr Kingdom Walaka said the PDP won the House of Representatives seat with 6, 100 votes, while the APC scored 3,100. At the Senate level PDP had 6,000, while APC had 3,050 votes.
PDP’s Sekibo leading with nearly 50,000 votes in six LGAs
There is currently a margin of 49,937 between George Sekibo of the PDP and Andrew Uchendu of APC in Rivers east senatorial district election. While Sekibo has so far polled a total of 77,691 votes, Uchendu has managed 27,754.
Credible elections dead under Buhari, APC – Fayose
Lamenting that it was worrisome that the legacy of free, fair and credible election left by the PDP has been eroded less than two years that the APC assumed power, Fayose said: “We thought that we have gone past this era of manipulated electoral process after the 2015 general elections, which brought the APC and President Buhari to power, but the Buhari administration has taken us back to the stone age by merging his party, APC with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the police, military and other security agencies.”
In a statement issued yesterday, by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, the governor said with what was witnessed in Rivers State on Saturday, ‘’it is clear that Nigeria is under siege and only prompt intervention by the international community can save democracy in the country from this imminent collapse.”
He continued: “It is sad that snatching of ballot boxes, hijacking of voting materials and electoral violence, which had become a thing of the past have now become part of our electoral process. It is even more worrisome that despite that votes are counted openly at the polling units, electorates are no longer sure of the results of elections until announcement by INEC, which has become an organ of the APC.”
Governor Fayose described President Buhari as a pretender, who has only paid lip service to the sustenance of democracy in the country, adding that “any president that looks the other way while the rights of his people to freely elect their leaders are being snatched at gunpoint by his own party men is not worthy of being associated with democracy.”
He reiterated his call to the United States of America President-Elect, Mr Donald Trump to focus his attention more on Nigeria, with a view to saving the country from disintegrating, saying; “God forbid, if Nigeria disintegrates, the entire continent of Africa will disintegrate.
“The order of the day in Nigeria now is disobedience to court orders, abuse of human rights, extra-judicial killings and mass burial of innocent Nigerians killed by the Army. The reality we must all face is that should all these be allowed to continue, Nigeria faces imminent danger and the international community must not allow the country to get to that level of total collapse before it begins to call President Buhari and his APC to order.”