Army’s interference in Rivers’ poll unfortunate infraction
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has described the Nigerian Army’s interference in the 2019 general elections in the state as the most unfortunate infraction in the nation’s democratic experience.
Wike said the invasion of collation centres to cart away Form EC 8C for the Governorship Election and Form EC 8b1 for the House of Assembly elections by the Nigerian Army was an affront on democracy.
The governor made this assertion when he granted audience to the Nigerian Army investigative committee on electoral violence, headed by Major General Ayibakuro Gagariga at Government House yesterday. Wike on behalf of the State government formally requested that appropriate sanctions be meted out to the GOC of the 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Major General Jamil Sarhem, for allowing the Division become the operational base of a political party. According to him, the GOC got himself actively involved in politics.
The governor told the committee that save for Abual/Odual Local Government Area, election took place in the entire State. According to him, challenges came during the collation, when operatives of the Army invaded collation centres to cart away the forms. Wike enumerated the areas where the Army unleashed violence and listed the names of Army personnel who led the operations. He further said it was regrettable that the GOC took orders from the Minister of Transportation on the deployment of soldiers to opposition leaders in the state. Wike further alleged that soldiers arrested and detained over 200 PDP leaders, agents and supporters at Bori Camp before, during and after the elections.
Rivers State Education Commissioner, Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja, narrated how he was arrested and interrogated by the GOC at the 6 Division. According to him, upon his release he was driven home by the Rivers State Commander of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Akin Fakorede. Gagariga said the committee is investigating the alleged interference by the Army during the elections in the state.
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