The prelude was not circumspect, especially with the withdrawal of the Chief Security Officer, CSO to the state governor, Chief Nyesom Wike. Also withdrawn were policemen from Government House, Port Harcourt. The Police High Command further effected the transfer of 500 senior and junior police officers from the state.
As if that was not enough, John Oyegun, chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, gave an uncivilised advise to members of his party urging them to retaliate whatever action they get from loyalists of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the re-run election.
Oyegun who spoke during a mega rally of the party in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, particularly said: “If they push you, push them back. If they slap you, slap them back.” This, among other deeds, provided a leeway for war and explained why the re-run was marred by violence.
At the end of the day, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Alkali Mohammed and his orderly were beheaded amongst other killings and ballot snatching.
Security agents were alleged to have played a major role in the violence that marred the rerun. Apart from the observation of ordinary observers, residents of areas where violence was reported linked it to the attitude of some security operatives on the ground.
Some residents even blamed security agents for the incidence of ballot box snatching, and unjustified harassment of voters and party officials, although the army and the police have denied such allegations.
Several PDP members were killed by policemen and SARS personnel. Musa was murdered in cold blood by policemen in Bodo City of Gokana LGA, while Mr. Lenee Neebani, Ward 10 Chairman, Khana LGA abducted by soldiers as he joined other party officials to monitor the movement of materials is dead. His widow in an interview blamed soldiers.
Surprisingly, the Police whose operatives are paid from the tax payers money and not a political party seem to have taken side with Chief Oyegun and his party, the APC.
Even though the IGP has set up an investigative panel to investigate developments before and during the polls, it has been rumoured in certain quarters that the Police may not question Chief Oyegun for inciting the electorate in Rivers State to perpetrate violence.
The IGP, Ibrahim Idris, has set up a team of detectives to conduct forensic analysis on the audio clips of a phone call purportedly made by Governor Nyesom Wike in respect of the concluded re-run elections in River State.
It would be recalled that an online medium, Sahara Reporters, posted audios of phone calls allegedly made by Wike in which the governor allegedly instructed some electoral officials to rig the election.
In a particular audio recording, a voice was heard threatening to kill some electoral officials if they failed to carry out the directives for which they were bribed.
The team of detectives was also mandated to conduct a thorough investigation into a statement credited to the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Yakubu Mahmud, in which he said that 70 incidents almost marred the December 10, 2016 rerun in the state.
The IGP said the team would unmask those who were directly or indirectly responsible for such incidents and bring them to justice.
The police spokesman, Donald Awunah, in a statement, called on the Rivers State Government and INEC to avail the investigative team with facts at their disposal and grant them the desired cooperation and assistance to achieve a comprehensive and conclusive investigation.
Observers insist that should there be a probe into the rerun elections, it should be done by the United Nations because the Army and Police have been indicted in the violence that marred the rerun elections.
According to CLEEN Foundation in its report, “The way and manner in which the election was conducted is a validation of the outcomes of the Security Threat Assessment report, and justifies the concerns of various stakeholders that the outcome of the election will not reflect the will of the people.
“There were serious cases of electoral violence orchestrated by the Police, Army and DSS in Ward 3 Bodo community in Gokana and Khana Local Government Area. This led to the shooting to death of Mr. Mbari John MeeBari.
“At Ward 12, Unit 5, Abonnema, Akuku Toru, Police shot sporadically to scarce away voters. At Sara 1, Sara 2 and Kalakama (Ward 12), Okirika LGA electoral materials were hijacked by the Army and officers of SARS at gunpoint.”
The report claimed that the killing of a police officer, DSP, Alkali Mohammed and his orderly, were due to “unwarranted use of force and shooting”.
“INEC, Police, Army and DSS provided overt and covert support for one of the political parties during the poll at Isiokpo INEC Collation Center,Ikwerre LGA, NGO in Andoni LGA, Bonny LGA and Ahoada, INEC Staff and security agencies especially the army and police were observed openly aiding a political party,” CLEEN said
For the PDP, the Inspector General Of Police lacks the moral high ground to institute a probe.
The outcome of the re-run probe by the Police, negative or positive, will cast a long shadow in the country’s political trajectory. Whether it will obviate the degenerating political situation is a moral question President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will have to answer.
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