Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Council in Rivers State on Tuesday raised alarm over what it described as alleged plans by the All Progressives Congress, APC, in connivance with the security agencies, especially the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, the Police Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, F-SARS, to scuttle elections in state.
In a press briefing, the Director-General of the PDP Campaign Council, Amb. Desmond Akawor, at the PDP campaign office in Port Harcourt alleged that some notable members of APC leadership in the state had at various times in the recent past threatened that there will be no election in the state if the party is denied the right to participate in the elections.
PDP alleged for instance, that on Friday 15 February 2019, 24 hours to the now rescheduled Presidential and National Assembly elections, the APC-led Federal Government deployed full military arsenal to cordon off, overrun and prevent voters and other residents from getting to the Local Government Areas of Akuku Toru, Andoni, Asari Toru, Bonny, Degema, Okrika and Opobo/Nkoro.
According to the party, in Okrika Local Government Area, indigenes and residents were physically barred by masked gun-trotting soldiers from returning home as early as 6.00 p.m. on Friday 15th February 2019 on the directives of the General Officer Commanding the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Jamil Sarham.
He said this was in spite of the fact that the restriction order on movement of persons by the Acting Inspector General Police was to take effect from 6.00 a.m. on 16th February 2019.
The party further claimed that earlier on the same day, that is, Friday 15th February 2019, the said Major General Sarham, sent military officers to the Central Bank Office, Port Harcourt to prevent INEC officials from distributing the available sensitive election materials to the 23 Local Government Areas of the State.
PDP campaign Council also claimed that the party is also aware that the military has perfected plans to cordon off collation centres across the State and prevent PDP agents from accessing the centres in order to rig the rescheduled elections on Saturday February 23 2019.
The party further claimed that the information available to it indicates that “APC has procured armed thugs, military uniforms and branded military and police vehicles for the purpose of rigging the rescheduled elections.”
PDP also alleged that the Commander of the Rivers State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Mr. Akin Victor Fakorede, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) whom the state government has been having a running battle with over accusation of having worked for APC in 2015 elections is part of the plan.
The Police Officer, PDP alleged, has been recruited as APC’s mercenary to actualize the party’s plan to either rig or prevent the peaceful conduct of the 2019 general elections.
The party claimed that, “in line with their defined strategies, Mr. Akin Fakorede and his SARS team were seen arresting indiscriminately, supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Khana, Gokana, Tai, Eleme and some other Local Government Areas of the State on Friday February 15, 2019 even when the elections had not commenced and without reasonable cause”.
The party also alleged that Major General Sarham in conjunction with Mr. Akin Fakorede and SARS operatives have also been detailed to track, arrest and detain leaders of the PDP across the State from Thursday 21st February 2019 until after the Presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday 23rd of February 2019 to actualize their plan to rig the elections in the State.
PDP campaign council further claim that majority of the Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs) and Presiding Officers (POs) INEC has recruited are card-carrying members of the APC, who have been meticulously trained, directed and motivated to work with the security agencies to actualize its overarching desire to rig the Presidential elections, and thereafter prevent the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections from holding in the State.
The said that with this Presidential Order given by President Muhammadu Buhari the military and the Police now have the motivation to use maximum violence to disrupt the voting process at will and even kill PDP supporters who try to resist or question the legitimacy of their unlawful activities at the polling stations.
The party warned that no one should take its obedience to the rule of law and constitutionality in the pursuit of our democratic rights to vote and be voted for through the electoral process as an act of cowardice, acquiescence or capitulation to intimidation, lawless behavior and dictatorship.
“No one has the monopoly of violence. We have the capacity and the will to mobilize our teaming supporters to resist intimidation and defend the collective rights of our people in Rivers State to effectively participate in the democratic process and frustrate those who are bent on denying our democratic rights, as expressly guaranteed by our constitution,” the party said.
Earlier, in the day the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army has alerted that credible intelligence available to it has uncovered an unholy plan by some political actors within its Area of Responsibility (AOR) to arm and sponsor miscreants in addition to using military-like fatigue dress for deception to cause pandemonium at polling stations for their political gain.
In a press statement signed Colonel Aminu ILyasu, Deputy Director Army Public Relations, said that covert efforts are on-going to track the source of the weapons and the agents involved in conjunction with sister security agencies, authorities of 6 Division of Nigerian Army.
But the Army unequivocally stated that anyone found to be disrupting the electoral process under any guise will be decisively dealt with in accordance with the laws no matter how highly placed he or she is.
“To this end, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division and Land Component Commander (LCC) OPDS Maj. Gen. Jamil Sarham wish to reassure the good people of Niger Delta of providing adequate security in conjunction with other security agencies before, during and after the 2019 General Elections.”