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Rivers: IYC Faults Arrest Of State REC, Others

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BEVERLY HILLS, August 05, (THEWILL) – Foremost Ijaw youth organisation, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, has condemned the arrest and detention of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of Rivers State, Mrs. Gesila Khan, who was reportedly quizzed on Wednesday by operatives of Directorate of State Security (DSS) in respect of the conduct of the last general elections in Rivers State.

IYC alleged that the arrest of Khan was a demonstration of President Buhari administration's resolve to persecute Niger Deltans and especially those perceived to be close to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

In a statement by its spokesman, Eric Omare, IYC said it is on record that Mrs. Khan has meritoriously served Nigeria in different capacities without blemish, disclosing that from July 14, 2015 till date, Mrs. Khan who hails from Bayelsa State has been arrested and detained twice and subjected to continuous harassment by the DSS allegedly on the orders of President Buhari over the conduct of the general elections in Rivers State.

“The DSS has no cogent and justifiable reason for the arrest, detention and continuous harassment of Mrs. Khan.

“As a result of the arrest, detention and continuous harassment, Mrs. Khan's health is failing. In most cases, she is now moving between the hospital and the DSS office.

“This is unacceptable and we call on all men of good conscience to condemn it. Even in the military era, electoral officers were not subjected to such human rights abuses,” the statement said.

IYC said it is strange that the civil society and human rights community in Nigeria are silent in the face of what it described as a threat and monumental rape on the nation's democracy.

IYC added that it is unprecedented in the electoral history of Nigeria for a Resident Electoral Commissioner to be arrested, detained and subjected to continuous harassment because the ruling party failed in the state where the electoral officer served.

IYC also alleged that the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Okojie, is facing similar treatment from the DSS led by President Buhari's kinsman, describing it as an abuse of office and threat to Nigerian's democracy.

According to the IYC, “To single out Mrs. Khan and Mr. Okojie to face dehumanising treatment is nothing but persecution of people from a particular section of the country. The aggrieved parties in the Rivers and Akwa Ibom elections have submitted their grievances to the tribunal for adjudication. It amounts to trying to truncate the administration of justice for the DSS to be harassing the electoral officers who conducted the elections.

“The IYC wishes to remind President Buhari that his resolve to persecute people from same place or close to former President Jonathan is a venture that would not do his administration any good. President Jonathan conceded defeat to allow peace to reign in Nigeria and Buhari should allow sleeping dogs lie.

“If there is any electoral officer that should be arrested, it is Prof. Attahiru Jega and the Resident Electoral Commissioners who criminally rigged the Presidential election in the northern part of Nigeria. President Buhari should know that the election that brought him to power was not in any way free and fair. President Buhari is a beneficiary of a massively rigged election.”

The IYC therefore called on the DSS to stop what it described as the harassment of Mrs. Khan and any other electoral officer who served in the south-south region, warning that Niger-Deltans may be forced to take their destiny into their hands.