Rivers 2015: Army General Under Fire For Renting Soldiers To Wike
+ Aspirants call for fresh guber primary
The Army Headquarters is investigating claims that the Commander, 2 Amphibious Brigade, Port Harcourt Brig. Gen. Osasogie Uzamere rented troops for a fee to intimidate aspirants and delegates at the recent Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary in the Rivers State.
This comes amidst indications that the party leadership may call for fresh governorship primary election in the light of revelations that several aspects of its electoral guidelines were breached by the Hon. Etifa Bekeakpo-led electoral committee.
The panel declared Chief Nyesom Wike, the immediate past Minister of State for Education, winner.
The reasoning is that Bekeakpo shouldn't have been anywhere near any committee involving Wike, his business and political godfather. Wike had in October 2013, influenced Bekeakpo's appointment as chairman of the governing board of Federal Polytechnic, Ekowe in Bayelsa State.
Ebekeakpo and Ferdinand Ibezim, another Wike's leg-man, were particularly notorious for disqualifying over 100 aspirants from Rivers State on the ludicrous ground there were not PDP members.
Curiously, only aspirants not in the good books of Wike were disqualified by the panel.
In the latest move, however, at least 10 governorship aspirants have reportedly petitioned the governorship appeal committee headed by the party's national chairman, Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu. The panelists are members of the National Working Committee (NWC).
Pointblanknews.com gathered that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Kenneth Minimah had ordered all commanders not to deploy soldiers under their commands to any politician or political party. VIP protection should be left to the police, Civil Defence corps and the Department of State Security, reasoned the Army Chief.
Minimah, whom several security sources hail as one of the most disciplined service chiefs in Nigerian history, had reportedly vowed to restore the integrity of the Nigerian Army by keeping a buffer between soldiers and politicians.
However, disregarding the Army Chief's orders, General Uzamere deployed soldiers from his brigade to serve as Wike's bodyguards for a whopping N25 million, sources close to the Brigade told Pointblanknews.com.
The rented soldier-bodyguards were reportedly responsible for blocking governorship aspirants from participating in the exercise, ostensibly to clear the way for Wike's emergence as candidate.
Sources at the Army Headquarters said General Minimah has ordered full scale investigations into how the Brigade Commander flouted his order.
In the military, insubordination and disobeying lawful orders is considered a very serious offencse which could earn the offender a court-martial, imprisonment, or even death.
The former minister has, however, reportedly assured the embattled Brigade Commander that “no officer in the Nigerian Army will touch you as long as Dame Patience Jonathan remains the First Lady.”
Spokesman of the Brigade, Captain Essien said he could not comment on troops movement at the PDP primaries in Port Harcourt as he was away in Lagos. He promised to call back. After several unanswered calls and SMS reminders, the PRO sent the following message, “please sir, I'm in a meeting.”
Pointblanknews.com had detailed how Wike, who ran the Ministry of Education like a personal estate, bought off members of all the electoral committees set up by PDP on Rivers State.
The former minister handed lucrative contracts to PDP chieftains to build phantom laboratories and supply already supplied textbooks in exchange for their support to help him get the party's governorship ticket.
So far, the beneficiaries haven't disappointed Wike.
Pointblanknews.com broke the story of how, in a particular case, the former minister bought Dr. Yakubu Gambo a duplex in Abuja. Wike had in March facilitated Gambo's appointment as deputy Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
The same Gambo ended up as chairman of the PDP ward congresses committee for Rivers State. Even though no elections held, Gambo, from the comfort of his hotel suite in Port Harcourt, delivered all of Wike's men as delegates.
Having succeeded with Gambo, Wike proceeded to use insiders in the PDP national secretariat appoint his aides, cronies and business associates into all the subsequent committees that conducted all the party's primaries in Rivers State.
Not satisfied with skewing all the previous primaries in Wike's favour, his handpicked state chairman, Mr. Felix Obuah failed to publish the party's membership register as required by Article 8 (2) of its constitution.
Party sources told Pointblanknews.com that several governorship aspirants have informed the Mu'azu-led appeal panel that no results could have come on November 1, 2014, as, according to them, no congresses held and no list of delegates published.
The aspirants further drew the appeal panel's attention to notices by the governorship panel that accreditation of delegates would begin at 9am at the state PDP secretariat, Port Harcourt, while election would begin at 12 noon.
However, according to the live television transmission of the event on AIT reportedly paid for by Wike, his “delegates” finished casting their ballots before 11 am. By noon, Hon. Ebekeakpo had declared Wike winner.
“The sham was concluded before 12 noon. The implication for the aspirants who were still struggling at the time to have their delegates accredited were mischiviously listed by the dubious committee as having lost,” observed a party official in Abuja.
He continued, “Out of desperation Wike's cronies in the electoral panel moved too fast and forgot to clean up their fingerprints.
“Now, Article 19 a of the party's guidelines for the 2014 congresses clearly stipulated that the venue and time for the congresses be published at least seven days prior. Even up till the morning of the congress, aside Wike and a few cheerleaders of his, no aspirant had information on where and when the event would hold,” he observed.
Continued the officer, “Article 19 (d) of the guidelines clearly spells out that 'Accreditation shall be between 8.00am and 12 noon and voting shall commence thereafter or on completion of accreditation'.
“By noon, Wike had been declared winner. What the panel did was to shave the heads of the remaining aspirants behind their backs.”
The officer described the Rivers PDP congresses as “the most fraudulennt congresses in the 16-year history of our great party.”
Observed the chieftain, “Wike has consistently exposed himself as a man afraid of contest. Even when our party convened a stakeholders' meeting in Abuja, he mistook the meeting for an election and ordered his thugs to beat up other aspirants and journalists.
“The ultimate question is how can a man who is so afraid of internal or mock elections in his party face a general election? Apparently, he is banking on the now obsolete rigging methods that landed him local chairmanship seat 15 year ago,” noted the chieftain.
He, however, expressed confidence in the ability of the appeal panel to review the entire exercise and order fresh congresses for Rivers State.
“Currently, Rivers State is in the hands of All Progressives Congress. We cannot afford to go into election with such a terribly dented thug like Wike.
“We have heard the hare-brained argument by some self-serving politicians feeding fat on Wike that zoning doesn't matter. But for zoning would Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan be president today?
“To the credit of the democratic tenets of our great party, PDP, a minority is president. If we didn't entrench zoning of offices in our party constitution, the three major trines in the country-Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, we all know, have the capacity to produce the president, vice president, senate president, speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Clerk of the National Assembly and so on.
“Where would that have left the Goodluck Jonathans, the David Marks, the Emmanuel Uduaghans and other minorities of the country? They most certainly wouldn't have risen above being chairmen of their councils on account of the size of their ethnic groups,” posited the party officer.
The official said he harboured no ill-feeling towards Wike, but held that “if anybody wishing to become our governorship candidate must be prepared to win in a transparent contest, not through kill-and-go means.”
Another official told Pointblanknews.com of the growing fears that some of the aspirants would remain in PDP and damage the party's chances to win Rivers State.
He said, “We are not children so it won't be good to deceive ourselves. Since Monday, we know APC and other parties have been reaching out to our aspirants. They have every right to feel bad. If you wanted Wike ab initio, no problem. Why take their money? Wike has stolen enough money from the Ministry of Education to single-handedly fund a governorship campaign, so why pretend and ask people to buy nomination forms?
“Let us learn from Anambra. When in 2010, PDP in a punitive move yanked its governorship ticket from Andy Uba and gave it to Chukwuma Soludo, what happened? Andy quitely moved to Labour Party and dealt a lethal blow on Soludo and PDP.
“The arguement that APC's Peterside is from a minority tribe is infantile. Isn't Uduaghan from minority Itsekiri tribe? Isn't Joshua Dariye from a minority tribe? Isn't Jonathan from a minority tribe? Didn't he floor Buhari, who comes from a very formidable ethnic bloc?
“If in the unlikely event PDP fails to stop Wike, then we should brace up for a very crushing defeat at the presidential and governorship elections in Rivers State,” he declared.
The post Rivers 2015: Army General Under Fire For Renting Soldiers To Wike appeared first on Pointblank News .