Rivers Re-Run: Abe Implores INEC, Security Agencies To Guarantee Free, Fair Elections
Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Rivers South East Senatorial District in the legislative re-run elections, has called for a level playing field by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies on the December 10 re-run elections.
Speaking on Channel's Sunday Politics, Abe said that they of APC are not asking for INEC and security agencies to favour them rather they are urging these apparatus of government to do the needful by ensuring that every voter has an enabling environment to cast his vote without molestation and intimidation as well as the vote counted.
“I am amused by some of the things I was hearing from the governor of Rivers State. First, let me say this, I think that it is important that before anyone holds any office, he should understand what is expected of the office that he holds. I believe that in all this, part of the problem we are having is that probably the governor of Rivers state has not taken time to study the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and to understand his role as a governor. If anything, it is the PDP in Rivers State that has received a lot of help from INEC. I have said it before, I can count the number of favours that INEC has done for the PDP. Let Wike mention one favour that INEC has done for the APC.
We don't want any favour from INEC. What we want is a level playing field where all the parties can compete fairly. Let me give you an example, in the last re-run election, some of the seats in the election were inconclusive. The rules of the election put forward by INEC itself clearly says that where the margin of win is less than the number of voters that have voted, that election is inconclusive and so those people that have not voted should be allowed to vote before those seats can be returned. But in the last election over 7 seats were returned in favour of the PDP that were inconclusive. We shouted all over, nobody responded to that. In this election that we are going into on the 10th of December, this date 10th of December was first pronounced by Gov. Wike. He announced it when he met with some people that INEC is now telling him that the election will hold on the 10th of December, let us see how they will now do it on the 10th of December. Where did he have that meeting with INEC where that date was given to him? We were not invited to that meeting. That is not what the rules of this election says. There is no special provision for governors when it comes to dealing with electoral matters. He is an interested party in the election and he cannot have any meeting with INEC where we are not part of where a sensitive information such as the date of the election will be divulged to him”.
He said it is the gimmick of Gov.Wike to accuse the APC of using federal might only to turn around to compromise the officials and rig the election.
“If he is accusing us of using the federal government to try to rig the elections. What is the evidence of that. To begin with, this same system that we are running is the same system that conducted the election that installed him as the governor. There is nothing that has happened so far that shows in any way that anybody has done anything other than what their constitutional responsibilities are. It is clear that he is playing tricks with the Nigerian people. He has a game plan, which he works on and then he goes to the public and shouts. But under that shouting, everybody can see what is going on. I just don't understand what he means by using federal might. In Gokana LGA where I come from, his own Secretary to Government brought their own army to the place. The INEC office was burnt. The youth corpers that were sent from INEC office to conduct election in Bodo, the home of the Secretary to Government, when they got there the PDP thugs collected the papers from them, insisted that the papers were fake, poured petrol on the corpers. Those children would have been set on fire but for the intervention of the army. What caused this problem? It is the language of the governor. He and his party want to be the ones to determine the electoral process; to accept the validity of the process. They are the ones who will say you are rigging or not rigging, pass judgement on you and execute it right there and then. That is not what the constitution says. Now, in the last election, when I contested against the same Olaka Nwogu and he was the candidate of the PDP. He had 4 trucks of soldiers with him anywhere he went and he was not even an official of government. I have less than 4 police men with me and they have been with me since I was in the Senate. What is happening here is that you have a situation where the governor of Rivers state is living in fear of what he has done. Every time he wakes up, he imagines that we are doing the same thing that he did. We are not. We are serving under a President that has said clearly that the people of Nigeria should vote and their votes should be counted. We have not been able to achieve that in Rivers State. All we are asking for from the federal government and security agencies is that a level playing field should be created where Rivers people can vote and their votes counted.”
He accused the governor of having a private army of thugs with which he unleashes terror on APC supporters and the general public who have sympathy for the party.
“They have already procured boys from Ekeremor, from everywhere to come in to disrupt the elections. They have already activated their army. They have their own army that they want to use to intimidate voters and scuttle the process”.
Abe urged the governor to realize that the state is bigger than him and to acknowledge that as the governor that he should be concerned about peace in the state and gather every stakeholder to achieve that.
“The state is bigger than him. And if he realizes that, it is important that he should respect other people and other views as far as the state is concerned. I believe that as stakeholders if we all work together we can achieve an election that would be free, fair and credible”.
He said it was unfortunate that it was the governor who was stoking the fire by going on air threatening INEC officials and law enforcement agents and urging his supporters to defy the law.
“The problem we have is that the governor who should be the leader of the state is the one spreading fear. He is the one stoking the fire. He is the one urging his people to resist arrest and fight. He is the chief security officer of the state. He wants to be the chief electoral officer of the state. He wants to be the chief enforcement officer of the state. He wants to be everything. That is not his role. The problem we have had in Rivers State is caused by a governor who came into power by brute force; who shot his way into the Government House on the lives of Rivers people and he is determined to perpetrate that kind of system. The same officers he is talking about from the University of Port Harcourt are the people who conducted the election that brought him into power. That time didn't he know that he knew who was APC and PDP? But he allowed them to conduct election. He didn't kill them. Then all of a sudden, anybody that they bring to come and conduct election, he starts calling their names and houses on national television and telling them that they will die. Is that how a governor should do? In the same election that we are talking about, INEC will declare a result, Wike and the PDP will come out and say that that one is not acceptable. They will not take this unless the ones that are declared in their favour and then when it is declared in their favour even where they did not win, that one is no problem. How can we have such double standards”.
Abe said in such atmosphere, it would become difficult to have a non violent elections.
He, therefore, enjoined the governor as the chief security officer of the state to at least once demonstrate that he is constitutionally responsible for the maintenance of law and order by making comments that would ensure peace and tranquility.
The former Secretary to Rivers State Government said that himself was convinced that he would win the election, judging from the numbers of decampees from PDP to APC as well as good will extended to him by his people in course of his campaign.
“If I go to the poll today, everybody who is living in Rivers State. Everybody who has seen my campaign. Everybody who has seen my followership that we enjoy in Rivers state, knows that I will win any election where Rivers people are allowed to vote and their votes are counted. And so will every other APC candidate. Every day I step out of my house, I am receiving decampees from the Peoples Democratic party”.
PARRY SAROH BENSON
Spokesperson to Senator Magnus Abe
December 5, 2016