•Protest, highest level of rascality —PDP
•Arrest, prosecute electoral offenders – MAJI tells police
•‘We’re pleased with INEC’s move to relist our candidates’
•Police deploy 15,544 personnel for polls
By Egufe Yafugborhi & Davies Iheamnachor
PORT HARCOURT:—Candidates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the 2019 elections in Rivers State have said they will not allow elections to hold in the state if the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, does not relist them in the ballot for the general election.
The candidates made the disclosure in Port Harcourt, yesterday, when they took thousands of their supporters on protest to INEC’s office in Port Harcourt.
However, men of the police dispersed the protesters with teargas, after the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Obo Effangha, had addressed them and left the scene with party big wigs.
Speaking, former Ambassador to Netherlands, Mr. Orji Ngofa, who is the senatorial candidate of the APC for Rivers South-East, noted that it is painful that INEC horridly delisted them (APC candidates) for the election, but was finding it difficult to relist the same candidates following order of court.
Ngofa accused the INEC of being biased, stressing that they were working for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to ensure that APC does not participate in the polls.
He said: “It is painful that INEC horridly delisted us when Justice Omotosho of the Federal High Court gave ruling, but they have not had time to relist our names following the order of Court of Appeal.
“You were in a haste to remove our names, so we have come here to ask them to comply with the court order. INEC is an institution established by the laws of Nigeria and it must not be disobedient to the laws.
“PDP filed a matter in court, the court gave ruling and the INEC obeyed. We approached the Court of Appeal gave stay of execution and even the Supreme court affirmed it, but you, INEC, has refused to relist us.”
Also, the candidate for Okirika/Ogu/Bolo Federal Constituency, Maureen Tamuno, who addressed the protesters on arrival at the INEC office on Aba Road wondered why INEC had failed to relist APC candidates even when Court of Appeal has granted stay of execution on a Federal High Court judgment which had barred APC from producing candidates.
PDP’s reaction to protest
Reacting to the protest by Rivers APC candidates against INEC in Port Harcourt for obeying the Supreme Court order, the PDP said it was the “highest level of rascality.”
Chief Felix Obuah, Rivers PDP Chairman, speaking through his media aide, wondered, “What the APC intends to do in government when it is opposed to the rule of law and other tenets of democratic rule.
“Most laughable was the call by Tonye Cole that INEC should include APC candidates on the ballot as though the Supreme Court judgment that nullified their participation in the state for the 2019 elections was for the birds.
“We seek political office, not at the expense of the lives of our people. We intend to lead the living, not the dead. To APC, it does not matter whether people are killed or slaughtered. All that matters is the office.
“This is the difference and the reason we continue to say that politics is too serious a matter to be left in the hands of charlatans and busy-bodies. We sincerely hope Rivers people and all relevant agencies will be firm not to be cowed by the APC’s antics to divert their attention.”
If something can be done, it will be – INEC
On his part, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, in the state, Obo Effanga, said: “We have received your letter and we will relate to the national office. I promise that is something can be done on the matter it will be done.”
However, spokesman of APC in the state, Chris Finebone, has expressed satisfaction with the moves the INEC had made to relist the candidates of the party for the polls.
Finebone said: “After a meeting of the State Working Committee of our party in the State today (yesterday) in which we meticulously deliberated on the recent court rulings of various courts especially the decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, has further re-affirm two earlier orders that stayed the execution of the judgments of the lower court.
“Our conclusion is that the APC and it’s candidates will now, most certainly, be on the ballot this Saturday. No order or judgment given since, including orders given by the Supreme Court on both jurisdiction and representation have said otherwise.“
Arrest, prosecute electoral offenders, MAJI tells police
Meanwhile, the State Coordinator of Media Awareness and Justice Initiative, MAJI, Okoro Onyekachi, has urged the police to arrest and prosecute anyone who acts contrary to the electoral guidelines.
Onyekachi while briefing newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said it had carried out much enlightenment and training to ensure that youths are not used by politicians to ferment violence at the polls.
Police deploy 15,544 personnel
The Rivers State Police Command, has deployed 15,544 personnel to monitor the Saturday’s polls in the state, barring all Very Important Personality not to move with their security details to polling booths.
Addressing the media, the Commissioner of Police the state, Usman Belel, noted that the interest of police in the elections was to get things right, calling on thugs to desist from ballot snatching and violence.
He said: “We have deployed 15,544, officers and men to be complemented by other sister security agencies. With the massive deployments made so far, we are undoubtedly good to go, as far as this election is concerned.”