Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers state, and the state’s governorship candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara, on Saturday clashed at the commission’s stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, was represented by the National Commissioner in charge of Rivers, Bayelsa and Edo States, Barrister May Agbamuche-Mbu, who also chaired the stakeholders’ meeting.
Awara accused Wike and INEC of doctoring results of the ‘bloody’ governorship and House of Assembly elections of March 9 in the state.
Wike, on his part, accused Awara, other members of AAC and their backers in the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) of promoting violence and scaring investors from Rivers.
Awara said: “Surprised that the leaders of political parties involved in the elections were not asked questions by members of INEC’s five-man fact-finding committee. I doubt the reliability of the doctored result sheets and other electoral materials with INEC in the last three weeks. We have record of some of the results being mutilated, particularly that of Akuku-Toru LGA.
“REC of INEC in Rivers State has refused to give reasons for charging the four compromised electoral officers of the commission, who lack integrity for being card-carrying members of PDP.
“If the violence made the March 9 elections not to be credible, according to INEC, where did the commission get results for the seventeen LGAs, of Rivers 23 LGAs in the INEC’s possession? At what point did the elections become violence-free, for the commission to now have results for 17 LGAs? Why has INEC refused to release the results of the 17 LGAs it claimed to have and the remaining six LGAs it wants to do supplementary election?”
The Rivers governor, however, accused the AAC’s governorship candidate, members of his party and his backers in APC of being economical with the truth.
Wike said: “I do not agree that Rivers is a violent state. Rivers State has never and it will not be a violent State. Why are they raising too much alarm? What causes violence? Why is there violence each time there is election? The only way to have peaceful elections is when the security agencies refuse to interfere or manipulate any process.
“How did people die? When INEC would go and collate results and people would resist and when people resist, they will shoot them. Rivers is not a violent state. It is most unfortunate that people would leave their state, come to another state, instead of them to make sure what obtains in their state obtains here, they do not want it, they want to cause problems for us.
“With all due respect, the Garrison Commander (Brig.-Gen. Adeola Kalejaiye) is here. Throughout my political career, of not less than thirty years, I have never experienced the type of roles the army played. We must tell people the simply truth.
“INEC set up a committee in 2016, during and after the reruns, where it was stated in your report that certain police officer manhandled your electoral official. He even went as far as naming the police officer. What has happened, as INEC? You could have said you did not want that kind of officer again. The same officer was also implicated in your report in these elections. Who are the people causing the violence?
“Rivers State in not violent when they are drilling crude oil. Why must the violence be during the period of elections? Who are those responsible, in order to tell them? INEC can insist on not requiring the services of the violent security personnel; that is the only way we can have peaceful, free and fair elections in Rivers State. Let the army personnel remove their hands from elections. It is unfortunate that we had some people demonstrating and thanking the Nigerian Army for a job well done. That is Nigeria for us.
“Who are the security personnel that will be in charge of the collation (between April 2 and 5)? Let us avoid sermon. You do not preach to me what you will not practise. The onus is on the security agencies to help INEC to do the right things, in order to achieve the results the commission wants to achieve. Rivers State is a peaceful state. Nobody should be driving away investors from us. Let personnel of Nigerian Army remove their hands from electoral process.”