Rivers State Rerun Election And The Condemnable Assault On Democracy
The Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM) condemns in strong terms the barbaric, crude, irresponsible, unconstitutional and criminal assault on democracy and the constitution by agents of evil who unleashed violence on the innocent voters of Rivers state in the re-run elections of Saturday 19th March, 2016 which culminated in outright cancellation in six local governments council areas by INEC.
We are indeed appalled, angry and disappointed that despite appeals for peaceful and orderly conduct before, during and after the rerun elections, that these irresponsible members of our political class refused to change from their evil ways of politics of do or die mentality to assault national psyche, democratic rights of Nigerians and embarrass us in the comity of civilized people.
It is a known fact that just like the 2015 general elections which was characterized by violence of unimaginable proportion before, during and after the elections in Rivers state, this rerun election has also followed same pattern because these anti democratic elements have no respect for the constitution and the democratic principle of one man, one vote and thus the time has come for us as a people to say, Enough is Enough.
However, kudos must be given to INEC for being responsible, unbiased, professional and circumspect in preventing a total breakdown of peace and order as plotted by enemies of democracy by placing premium on the safety of lives of not only its personnel, but also voters, party agents, observers, media, etc through its careful deployment of personnel for the conduct of the elections.
The volatility and tension created in the environment with the magnitude of violence that preceded and characterized previous elections, this rerun election and threats against INEC personnel in the discharge of their constitutional function from certain quarters, necessitated employing extra security precaution to avoid undermining the conduct of a free, fair and credible election and this might explain the delay in the deployment of electoral personnel and materials on voting day.
However, despite all the precautionary actions of INEC to ensure a credible and transparent elections, these agents of darkness still went ahead to compromise the process by unleashing violence and raising all sorts of allegations before commencement of the exercise such as the circulation of fake ballot papers and results sheets just to ignite crisis. We need to inquire from those who raised the allegation of fake ballot papers and results sheets distributed by INEC, that how did they know? Except of course, if they were in possession of the original for comparison before the election which amounts to electoral malpractice since its only INEC personnel that are constitutionally empowered to take custody of election materials.
We must also give a big kudos to our security agencies who despite the threats, intimidation, assaults and blackmail, displayed the highest sense of patriotism by their unbiased and professional conduct in ensuring security of lives and property during the elections as attested to by the stakeholders.
We want to also commend the media and the observers for their professional conduct in the coverage and monitoring of the elections in conformity with democratic principles.
We cannot but commend the voters who summoned the courage to defy intimidation and threats to life by coming out to exercise their franchise in an orderly and peaceful manner and thus put to shame the plots of agents of darkness against the elections.
In view of the above, we demand the following:
1. Immediate prosecution of arrested electoral offenders to serve as a deterrent to others.
2. Investigation and prosecution of all alledged electoral breaches in order to restore sanity into our electoral system
3. Immediate investigation of the allegation of distribution of fake ballot papers and results sheets and the prosecution of the source for assaulting democracy, the constitution and impugning the integrity of our electoral system.
As we await the announcement of official results and the rescheduling of elections in the cancelled local government areas by INEC, we call on the people of Rivers state to remain peaceful, orderly and refuse to be used to cause a breach of public peace by aggrieved politicians who are admonished to seek redress in a civilized and constitutional means rather than resort to self help.