By Jimitota Onoyume
The federal and state legislative re-run elections due for December 10 in Rivers State are raising tension in the state to new levels with the two major political parties.
The elections involving all three Senate seats and 10 House of Representatives are holding mostly on account of judicial decisions which upturned the outcome of the elections that took place during the 2015 general elections. Efforts to hold the elections within the time stipulated by the courts and the Electoral Act were torpedoed by cases of violence that have characterised the quest for political supremacy in the state in the last three years.
Reflective of the acrimony between the two parties, they have in recent days been throwing up mutual allegations of against one another.
Three weeks ago some persons were arrested at Isiokpo Street in Port Harcourt for allegedly printing fake result sheets for the elections. Governor Wike who addressed newsmen on the development accused the APC of being behind it. On its part, the APC dismissed it as a scam. Noting much has been heard on the outcome of police investigation on the issue.
The state Police Commissioner, Mr Francis Odesanya had told newsmen that three persons were in police custody over the matter.
Governor Wike at a media parley had raised the alarm over an alleged plot to transfer the case to zone 6 Calabar, stressing that the move was part of plot to sweep the issue under the carpet. Spokesman of the Rivers State Police Command, DSP, Omoni Nnamdi, however, denied the accusation.
Governor Wike also recently alleged that INEC, APC and the Police had made arrangements on how to rig the election, an allegation all three have separately denied.
The governor even went further to say that he had a video clip of a secret meeting between the Police and leaders of the APC on the issue and even threatened to release it.
When contacted for comment on the allegation, the state Police chief, Mr Odesanya dared the governor to release it, saying he would only respond after he had seen the video. In a similar vein, Governor Wike had also alleged that INEC had secretly released result sheets for the election to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi at a meeting in Abuja. Amaechi and the INEC in separate statements denied the allegations.
The APC in its response dismissed the allegations by the governor as cheap blackmail intended to divert attention from his alleged plan to rig the exercise.
Publicity secretary of the party, Mr Chris Finebone in his statement said the governor was allegedly targeting chieftains of APC, Police and INEC for blackmail because his alleged rigging plan had met a brick wall.
His words, “With less than two weeks to the legislative rerun elections in Rivers State, Gov. Nyesom Wike appears to have thrown all caution to the wind as he launches a campaign of blackmail on everyone especially the APC, INEC and the Nigeria Police. “However, as the rerun elections approach, it seems to be dawning on the governor that times have changed as the security agencies including the Nigeria Police are way beyond his reach. Despite still having pockets of moles in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Gov. Wike has lost the services of the top echelon of the Commission who are conscious of the anti-corruption stance of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“In his helplessness, the governor has resorted to crude blackmail against all stakeholders in the December 10 rerun election.
“Last week, he concocted a fictional story about INEC handing over original results sheets to the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, a wild accusation the Minister debunked immediately. Next on the governor’s ignominious list for blackmail was INEC whom he accused of colluding with the APC to rig the rerun election. He provided no proof and both the INEC and APC denied the accusations.
“To the surprise of everyone, Gov. Wike, while addressing his supporters on Monday accused the Rivers State Commissioner of Police of plotting to rig the December 10 rerun election in Rivers State for the APC. Most astonishingly, Gov. Wike promised to make public visuals of that plot by the Police Commissioner.
What is certain to the APC is that the governor is merely throwing mud of blackmail indiscriminately against everyone to sufficiently create a facade that will allow him display from his deep bag of electoral mischief. “The APC wishes to call on Governor Nyesom Wike to immediately desist from his present free-for-all blackmailing of critical stakeholders in the December 10rerun elections.”
With the PDP yet to produce air the tape of the alleged conspiracy by the APC, INEC and security agencies against it, the state administration again on Wednesday alleged that the APC had procured sixty brand new Toyota Hillux vans to smuggle the fake electoral materials into the state. “Rivers State APC took delivery of sixty brand new Toyota Hilux vans on Monday 28th November 2016, these vehicles would be used by the APC to convey the forged result sheets and other electoral materials to different parts of the State, such as Ogoni, Ikwerre, Isaka in Okrika Local Government Area among others.”, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Tam David-George said in a statement.
The claim was immediately dismissed by APC spokesman, Finebone. “Our reaction to the allegation by the Commissioner is that it is a concoction brewed and served from the infantile imagination of government of Nyesom Wike and the PDP in Rivers state.
The governor and his men are being haunted by their ignoble past concerning election rigging. Strangely , their weird dream seems to continue to trouble them unabated. It is a big lie from the pit of hell and hawked by the governor and his men. Wike knows that Hon Chibuike Amaechi or other APC leaders do not belong to his political station where election rigging reigns supreme,” he said