The dust has continued to gather in Rivers State following fears that the All Progressives Congress (APC) working in tandem with the 6 Division of the Army and the Rivers State Commander of SARS, Akin Fakorede has concluded plans to cause havoc in the State during the Presidential Election on Saturday.
The petitioners, including the Rivers PDP Campaign Council and State Council of Traditional Rulers drew the attention of President Mohammadu Buhari, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai; Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu; United States Ambassador to Nigeria, W. Stuart Symington; British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing and the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen to what it saw as needless militarization of the 2019 general elections in Rivers State.
The traditional rulers in their petition which was signed by State Chairman of the Traditional Rulers Council and Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom, King Dandison Jaja urged President Buhari to keep faith with the promises he made during his recent Presidential rally of the APC in Port Harcourt, that he would ensure that a free and fair election is conducted in the State.
“We also requested and extracted a commitment from the President that nothing will be done to disturb the prevailing peace and security being enjoyed in the State on account of the general elections”, Jaja said.
He said they were however taken aback by the perceived uncomfortable disposition of the GOC, 6 Division of the Army at Bori Camp, Major General Jamil Sarham and the Commander in charge of the FSARS, Mr. Akin Fakorede towards the peaceful and harmonious conduct of the elections.
Their grouse, according to the traditional rulers stems from one of the incidents which happened on Friday, 15th February, 2019 when military men were deployed and cordoned off and prevented innocent citizens returning to their Local Government Areas especially in the riverine areas from entering on the pretext of restricting their movements, 24 hours to the official time.
“Worse still, our Council has received report of the forceful and illegal occupation of the private property of Chief Ferdinand Alabraba in Abonnema by the military, purporting to use same as command operations base for the prosecution of the 2019 elections in the area”, he said.
Similarly, the State PDP Campaign Council in their petition which was signed by its Chairman, Ambassador Desmond Akawor regretted that the GOC, 6 Division of the Army, Major General Jamil Sarham has constituted a clog in the smooth conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections in Rivers State, as his recent activities clearly show collaboration with the APC.
“On Friday, 15th February, 2019, the GOC sent military officers to the Central Bank office in Port Harcourt to prevent INEC officials from distributing the available sensitive election materials to the 23 Local Government Areas of the State”, he said, adding that the GOC had also allegedly provided military uniforms and branded military vehicles to armed APC thugs for the purpose of rigging the rescheduled elections.
He also accused the army office of holding meetings with a factional Chairman of APC in the state, Flag Ojukaye Amachree, Prince Tonye Princewill as well as Mr. Tonye Cole on Monday, February 18, 2019 where it was said that instructions from the Chief of Army Staff were purportedly handed down to the GOC with the mandate to deliver Akuku-Toru, Asari-Toru and Degema Local Government Areas to the APC at all cost.
Akawor said it was on the strength of these callous activities of the Army GOC and SARS Commander, Fakorede against the general elections that the Campaign Council request the Chief of Staff and Inspector General of Police to call the GOC and SARS Commander to order.