Wike decries use of SARS for APC congress
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has warned that the use of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and military personnel to cause rancour ahead of the APC Congress is a pointer to electoral mischief they will deploy in 2019.
Similarly, concerned about the tense political atmosphere in Rivers State, Ledum Mitee led Initiative for Credible Elections (ICE) has tasked the military to be neutral during the 2019 polls in Rives State.
The governor observed that the series of statements issued by APC stakeholders on the illegal activities of SARs personnel in the course of today’s forthcoming congress should draw the attention of all well-meaning lovers of democracy.
Wike stated this during a courtesy visit by the retired military and para-military officers of Ogoni led by Rear Admiral John Nicholas Bakpo to the Government House Port Harcourt on yesterday.
“In an ordinary party congress, over a platoon of soldiers and more than 200 SARs Personnel have been handed over to one man. If these operatives protect just one man, while other communities are left without protection. Even the notorious election rigger, SARS Commander Akin Fakorede is operating without check because he has the support of the Police High Command “ he said.
The governor explained that overzealous security agents, detailed to manipulate the process, often generate conflicts during elections. To this end, he urged the retired military and paramilitary senior officers to use their contacts in the military to prevail on them to respect the rule of law in a democracy.
Mitee who was accompanied by former INEC resident electoral commissioner, Baritor Lenu Kpagih, Dr. Sofiri Peterside and others, made this appeal during an advocacy visit to the General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Major General, Musa Yusuf, in Port Harcourt.
He said the visit to the military had become imperative due to the fiery rhetoric of the key political actors in the State ahead of the 2019 polls.He noted that over one hour, that though the military was not legally empowered to provide security during elections, the country had witnessed instances where the military was deployed on election days. He appealed to the military authorities to ensure they maintain neutrality during the 2019 elections in the State, which from all indication would be fiercely contested.
Mitee stated that the history of elections in Rivers State has been tainted by electoral fraud; crisis and violence perpetrated by some political actors in collusion with some Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staff and security agencies that subvert the will of the electorate in the State.
The ICE convener said the partnership with the Army was necessitated by the desire to ensure that future elections in the State are not only credible and devoid of electoral fraud, but violence which had characterized past polls.
He said the conception of free and fair periodic elections is among the most important aspect of the minimum requirements of formal democracy. To this end, he appealed to the security agencies to commit themselves to credible polls in 2019.
“What may not be very obvious to many is that violent elections in the state reinforces the perception of insecurity which scares away businesses and thus deprives our youths of needed employment opportunities. We are confronted with the paradox of our youths who are mostly being used to perpetrate violence during the elections, are deprived of opportunities for employment because of the violence perpetrated during elections” he said.
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