Army condemns Police, INEC over Rivers State governorship election
INEC indefinitely suspended all electoral processes in the oil-rich state due to widespread disruption of the governorship election last week.
Many allegations have been traded over the disruption especially with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accusing the Army of doing the bidding of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to dethrone incumbent governor, Nyesom Wike, who’s seeking re-election.
After a fact-finding committee set up by INEC submitted its report, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, expressed regret over the manner in which some soldiers invaded collation centres and intimidated election officials.
While also speaking during an interview on Channels TV on Monday, March 18, he further said that the fact-finding committee established that the military intervened in some places.
“We saw them in INEC office and they agreed that they were at some collation centres on election day. We did not go out to establish the fact about if soldiers rigged elections or who did not rig,” he said.
However, in a statement signed by the Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, on Monday, the Army said it felt betrayed by Okoye’s statement.
The Army said despite meeting with the commission’s committee to hold ‘honest discussions’, its inputs were never made public. It said this showed a lack of trust despite the Army’s sacrifices to ensure that INEC was able to peacefully fulfill its electoral duties.
Speaking on the Rivers elections, the Army said INEC failed to mention the attack on its personnel by Governor Wike’s security aides and armed thugs who stormed the collation centre on Obio/Akpor Local Government Headquarters on March 9.
Colonel Iliyasu said Captain Adams Salami was shot by Wike’s security aides while Corporal Adeosun Adebayo was matcheted by the governor’s alleged thugs, both left with life threatening injuries.
The Army further stated that despite admitting the complicity of some of its men in the violence against military personnel, the Rivers State Police Command has failed to take disciplinary action against those involved.
The statement concluded by calling on the Police leadership to commence a full scale investigation into the officers who took part in the attack, failure of which would result in a review of all existing joint activities with the Rivers State Police Command.
The Army also took exception to the “unfair INEC report” and strongly rejected it.
Read full statement below:
Headquarters 6 Division Nigerian Army (NA) have observed with dismay and sense of betrayal in the statement made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) signed by its National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee Festus Okoye Esq on 15 March 2019. The statement according to INEC was the findings of its Fact-Finding Committee that assessed the situation in Rivers State.
It is however pertinent to note that, representatives of the 6 Division met with the Fact-Finding Committee on Tuesday 12 March 2019 at the INEC Headquarters in Port Harcourt and had honest discussions and made a written submission to aid the Committee in its task. Regrettably, none of the Division’s input form any of the findings of INEC as made public. This clearly indicates lack of trust by an institution that the NA sacrifices so much to assist in the course of performing their role.