…Rivers bans street protests
…APC opposes Wike’s ban
By Davies Iheamnachor
The police yesterday in Port Harcourt stopped the protest embarked upon by supporters of the African Action Congress, AAC, at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The policemen had cordoned off the INEC office in Port Harcourt, ahead of the planned resumption of collation of the governorship and state assembly election results.
The protesters were marching to the INEC office to deliver their protest letter when the police men swooped on them using tear-gas.
The Rivers State Government had on Thursday placed a ban on street protest in the state till further notice. The Commissioner of Information and Communications in the state, Emma Okah, had in a statement yesterday said that government has banned political protests in the state.
Supporters of African Action Congress, AAC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP however defied the ban and gathered to stage protest in the state.
AAC supporters, who had gathered very early, had planned to go to the INEC office to demand immediate transfer of the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Obo Effanga, and an outright cancellation of the election, while the destination of the PDP supporters was not known before the police intervened.
Addressing news men, the Executive Director of Electorate Rights Defence and Education Network, ERDEN, David Adejola, described the action of the police as barbaric, adding that the police should not have dispersed the protesters who were peaceful.
Save Rivers from crisis
Adejola, however, urged the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to immediately transfer Effanga from Rivers State, accusing him of alleged incompetence and bias.
Adejola alleged that Effanga allowed inclusion of card carrying members of PDP to make list of Returning Officers, Presiding Officers and Electoral Officers for the exercise.
Adejola said: “We in the Electorate Rights Defence and Education Network (ERDEN) is appealing to your conscience as a Nigerian and as the chairman of INEC to please excise the powers conferred on you by the constitution and electoral Act of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended to call, reprimand and stop Mr Obo Effanga from plunging Rivers State into unimaginable anarchy.
“The March 9th,2019 governorship election and House of Assembly election was already planned to produce a premeditated winner against all known electoral laws in the country.
“First, known card carrying members of PDP were intentionally recruited as ROs, COs and POs in order to give undue advantage to PDP.”
He then demanded that, “the purported election of 9th March 2019 result that is being envisaged to be announced remains invalid as time and events have naturally annulled the fraud (election) perpetuated by the REC and cohorts.
“That the said suspension was an arrest of due process, we will recall that elections had been concluded at 2pm on the 9th of March while the suspension based on widespread violence was at 4pm Sunday March 10th 2019 when seven (7) LGA’s had been collated out of the available 14 LGA results.”
APC opposes Wike’s ban on protests
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state has described the ban on street protest by Governor Nyesom Wike as height of absurdity.
The Publicity Secretary of APC, Chris Finebone, noted that the governor does not have the right to stop peaceful protests, adding that the ban was aimed at stopping people of the state from exposing the ills of the government.
Finebone said: “We, the APC consider the ban on protests announced by the Rivers State Government as the height of absurdity by a government. We believe that Gov. Nyesom Wike who authorised the ban is unaware that Rivers people and indeed Nigerians have inalienable right to peaceful protest.
“Perhaps the governor should be reminded that Justice Adekeye J.S.C. (rtd) once stated that, a rally or placard carrying demonstration has become a form of expression of views on current issues affecting government and the governed in a sovereign state.
“It is necessary at this point to inform Gov. Wike that his ban on protest is simply a waste of time and space. Nigeria Police cannot enforce an illegal ban except the governor intends to deploy his usual gun-toting hoodlums.
“He should remember that this is not 2015; this is 2019. If the governor tries it, he will not like the outcome and he knows it.”