Day to tribunal deadline, Rivers APC fails to secure certified results as PDP supporters occupy INEC
APC chiefs lament tense intra-party atmosphere
A day to the deadline for aggrieved candidates to file their petitions at election tribunals, another attempt by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Tonye Cole, to secure Certified True Copy (CTC) of the election result needed to file its case, again failed.
This followed continued protest by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters on the premises of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), where Cole tried in vain for days to procure certified results. APC failed because it could not have access to Commission’s office, which has been occupied by the PDP supporters.
The supporters laid siege to the office along Port Harcourt/Aba road in Port Harcourt. They were led by the Ikwerre Council Chairman, Samuel Nwanosike. They alleged that some officials of the Commission were sneaking electoral documents out to members of APC in the state.
The PDP protesters, who have occupied the INEC office since Monday, were said to have shot into the air to scare away people before barricading the office of the electoral umpire. INEC staff members were locked in and could not exit their offices at the time of filing this report.
The Guardian also gathered that some INEC officials, out of fear, handed over some documents to the PDP chiefs.
BUT, the Cole campaign organisation says it has filed its petitions at the tribunal.
Director, Media and Strategic Communications of the campaign council, Wabiye Indonimoboye, confirmed this to newsmen yesterday. He said: “What PDP was doing was to delay us from filing our petition on time but we were smarter, while they were at INEC office doing drama, we filed our case.”
MEANWHILE, APC chiefs have expressed worry over protracted tense political atmosphere in the state, arising from the governorship elections conducted on March 18.
Speaking, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, an APC group, known as ‘Upper Echelon’, led by Mr. Lucky Ottos, urged party stakeholders, including the former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, not to plunge the state into unnecessary unrest by their activities. Ottos told political parties in the state to avoid any act capable of disturbing public peace.
The group further urged INEC to maintain neutrality by giving equal opportunities for all political parties to jointly inspect the election materials.
While expressing support for the former Chief of Staff, Tony Okocha, to lead the party forthwith, the group called on security agencies to take steps to stem rising tensions. Okocha, in a statement said: “There must be a state first before individual ambitions. If the state is burnt down, who will those with ambitions lead?
“The law has made adequate provisions for all aggrieved parties to approach the courts to ventilate their grievances. We call on all parties to take advantage of that.
“Nobody should be allowed to disturb the peace of our state and security of our people under any guise.” He said the party would not fold its arms and allow desperate politicians throw the state back into the era when life was short, nasty and brutish.
Okocha told aggrieved party members to approach the court to address their grievances and not to take laws into their hands. Recall that a faction of the APC in the state, led by Chike Enyinda, had, on Wednesday, suspended the state party Chairman, Emeka Bekee, for alleged anti-party activities, gross misconduct and financial mismanagement.
But a group loyal to Amaechi described the suspension as null and void, saying no group has the constitutional right to suspend any executive member of the party.
Spokesman for APC in the state, Darlington Nwauju, said the drama playing out was an onslaught to ensure the APC does not challenge the outcome of the March 18 elections at the tribunal.