APC was Relying on Lies, Propaganda and Federal Might to Take Rivers State, Instead of Proving Its Allegation of Over-voting 13 Feb 2016 Font Siz


Rivers State has been in the news lately for several reasons including the outcome of the elections petitions in the state resolved in favour of Governor Nyesom Wike who is on a victory lap. In this exclusive interview with THISDAY,  he spoke on several touchy issues including his experiences at the petitions and courts, allegations of looting $150 million made against his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, the allegations leveled against him by APC governorship candidate Dakuku  Peterside concerning the Supreme Court ruling, the dwindling price of crude oil, the stalled Mono-rail project, the loans he took from banks and other topical issues

The Supreme Court has affirmed your mandate as the elected governor. How does it feel now that you don’t have to look forward to a rerun?
Thank you for the opportunity to express how I feel after the judgment of the Supreme Court. It is like asking me how do I feel when I have succeeded in my studies after passing through the university and the university has confirmed me as being worthy in character. What I am saying is that the judgment of the Supreme Court has made me to be more committed to God because God indeed came down to manifest Himself and to say I am in charge of the affairs of every man. The Supreme Court judgment reaffirmed our commitment, gave hope to Nigerians that all hope is not lost. The judgment of the Supreme Court saved this nation from the kind of crises that would have occurred if there was an order for rerun. Not neccessarily because of the order for a rerun but if it were to be the right order, rather from the desperation of the ruling party at the national level. We know this from our experience and looking at what happened in Baylesa.
Some of the states that they consider a-must-take are Rivers State and Akwa Ibom State. So, if you take it from that perspective, there was desperation, and a feeling of “We must take Rivers state” which was confirmed by the national chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC). The National chairman did state this when the Court of Appeal annulled our election. He came out and said they are also going to take Akwa Ibom, as at that time Akwa Ibom hadn’t been annulled. When the Supreme Court gave this judgment, you saw how he was agitated and how he reacted that the judgment was so astonishing to them and, why it was so to them was because, by their own calculation, the takeover of Rivers state had been concluded, the takeover of Akwa Ibom state had been concluded and so since that wasn’t the case, they said it was not a reality; that it is a drama, but indeed they didn’t take into consideration that God has the final say. That man can propose but God can dispose. For me, it was happiness and joy and it should not  be because of me that there would be bloodshed and I told those who are close to me that I know my people will resist any attempt by anybody to rig an election and if they are resisting then that will lead to violence and that will lead to bloodshed. It gives me happiness that God said no it won’t be because of you that there would be bloodshed in Rivers state. When the ruling party at the national level was crying out, it showed that if there was anything they wanted to do then that thing had already been done. In fact, I can even tell you that when Dr. Chris Ngige’s father died; during the burial ceremony in Church, Dakuku Peterside was introduced as the incoming governor of Rivers state not minding that the matter was still before the Supreme Court. So, to them that was fiat accompli, the matter had been concluded. In fact, INEC had gone ahead to fix February 6th as date for a re-run election. Yes I said so because before the judgement of the Supreme Court, INEC had invited my party chairman and other political parties to prepare for a re-run on the 6th of February and I asked why would we have a re-run when we are expecting the Supreme Court’s judgement? Is it that we are going to do a re-run now and if the governorship election is  annulled by the Supreme Court, then you do another election and they said no but that they believe because the tribunal, the Court of Appeal had upheld the annulment that it would be difficult for the Supreme Court not to follow suit. Therefore, they have put February 6 as re-run date.  So, that shocked me. After the Supreme Court judgement, you should have seen the reaction in the state; everybody was happy and joyful in the state which goes to confirm to you that indeed God used the Supreme Court to avert bloodshed; to bring peace to the state, to say there won’t be bloodbath and so, asking me how I feel, I feel like dancing everyday and giving thanks to God that it is not because of me and it won’t be during my time that there would be blood bath.
Talking about bloodshed, one of the reasons APC advanced in seeking to nullify your election was that there was violence and massive bloodshed during the Rivers state election. In fact, they mentioned that about 100 people were killed.
I thank you for that question. I will expose their ignorance and the kind of lies they tell. If you say that there was violence, if you say people died in the course of the election, if you say that some people were kidnapped, is it not their responsibility to show evidence of those who died in that election. They needed to let the tribunal know the people that were kidnapped. As I speak to you, let them mention one death certificate that was tendered at the Tribunal to show that during the election that Mr. Z died, look at the death certificate. In the course of this election, look at the dead bodies, look at those that were kidnapped, look at those arrested perpetrating the violence, not one was shown. So, it is not enough for you to say there was violence and you say people died, people were kidnapped and you didn’t show the Tribunal evidence
that people died, that people were kidnapped during the election and it will now be left to the Tribunal to make up their mind and say look, having shown us this death certificate, having shown us these people that were kidnapped, those that were arrested and injured then we are truly convinced that this people died during the course of the election, but not one was tendered in evidence. It is not even enough to say I have brought video coverage of people who died, because assuming that there was video coverage and the coverage shows people being killed, you must go beyond this to say yes this death occurred during the election; not to talk of a situation where it wasn’t shown at all. Now, how did the Tribunal come to the conclusion that there was violence in the election? Rather, what they did was to base their argument on hearsay. Not even newspapers were tendered to show as evidence. The army came, even those that weren’t part of the election, came to testify and they said they didn’t arrest anybody, the police came and also said they didn’t arrest anybody. They also confirmed they didn’t see anybody thumb-printing, that they didn’t arrest anyone with electoral materials. So, how was the election violent?  They only said that they were hearing shootings but they couldn’t arrest one person. Ask the SSS what happened? We were told that election didn’t take place in some areas. Now, tell me, is that enough for the Tribunal to say yes, there was violence. So you see the entire trial was based on propaganda, on nonexistent facts. In their petition they said they will show in the course of the trial video coverage where people were thumb-printing, where people were killed and they will use forensic examination to show that there were multiple thumb-printing but not one was shown, not even the forensic expert, not one. The Tribunal granted them leave to go and inspect. Ask them what the result of the inspection was. Did they tender any document to show that this was the result of our inspection? So, it is not just to say, Army said there was no election, SSS said there was no election, Police said there was no election; did you tender any security report be it from the Army, SSS or police saying this is our security report, that election wasn’t conducted. All they did is wear black shirts and say those people who killed our people God will pay them back, where are these people that were killed? Who made statement to the police that their person was killed? Who has seen their dead body?
What was it like when the election was annulled at the Tribunal and upheld at the Appeal court?

Now, let me tell you, from my experience in election petition I was chairman of council and I contested Local Government Chairmanship election. My case got to the Supreme Court; so it is not the first time and I have always passed through this process so we knew what was going on from my discussion with my lawyers. How did we know? As the Tribunal was going on we got information that the Tribunal chairman would be changed.  From what we heard, he wasn’t co-operating with the petitioners which is the APC. We wrote to the president of the Court of Appeal that this is what we are hearing, that this is what is going to take place. Just assume that we sent that petition today, tomorrow morning at the Tribunal we saw a new chairman. Now, the Tribunal chairman wasn’t removed for any offense because if he committed any offense they wouldn’t have made him the chairman National Assembly Tribunal of Rivers state. Why did they send him to be the chairman of the National Assembly Tribunal? If, for example, he committed any offense but he didn’t, they made him chairman of National Assembly Tribunal of the same Rivers state; removed him from governorship to National Assembly Tribunal chairman. If he committed any offence he would have been removed totally but they removed him from the governorship tribunal and put him in the National Assembly tribunal of the same state and our lawyer raised opposition to it and the Chairman said he was aware of this matter and that he has being following it and nobody will tell him what to do..
In Lagos state, they said the card reader was not part of the electoral act, therefore it doesn’t stand, in Kaduna, the court ruled that card reader can’t be used as a proof of over-voting, in Oyo state the same thing, in Zamfara the same thing but it became applicable only in Rivers state and we asked ourselves what is so peculiar about Rivers state? Why is it that Rivers state has a different application of laws.

What was that major turning point in your argument that you think swayed the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court Justices haven’t brought out their reason but I think firstly, that the application of proof, the reason for holding that the mere fact that they didn’t use the card reader didn’t comply to the electoral act was one of the reasons because there are principles. The Supreme Court had laid down the principles of how you can prove over-voting and if you say there was over-voting you must use the voter register, you must tender the relevant result that is, polling unit by polling unit to show over-voting.
You mean all these were not tendered?
Never! They weren’t. But you see the power of propaganda. Again, where is the proof of this criminal allegation? Before now, the Tribunal struck out all the paragraphs that had to do with the issues of criminal allegations, the burden of proof on security men, of those that weren’t at the voting point. Meanwhile, the same Tribunal relied on all those security men; on allegations that bothered on criminality. So, for me the Supreme Court said where did you arrive at this violence when the paragraphs were struck out? My lawyer also told me what he complained of on the quorum of the Tribunal to give its ruling.  Is it by chairman and one member or by two members without a chairman? Those who were still in that panel were two members without a chairman initially. So for you to form a quorum there must be a chairman and, the chairman who gave that ruling wasn’t the chairman who heard the matter. He never participated; so the whole thing was the power of propaganda on newspapers; there was no election in Rivers state, there was violence in Rivers state but nobody bothered to say ‘where was this violence? What polling units?’ The Supreme Court had laid a number of cases for you to know when there was no election; you must call each voter in each of the polling units. As I speak to you they called only three voters, including the petitioner himself; majority of their witnesses were security agencies, security men and not the voters. How many agents were at the polling units? Most of their agents were merely collation agents, not even polling unit agents; so you can see what were are talking about. They are the government in power and there was nothing they didn’t do to us. In fact, to show that they had concluded the matter, the security apparatus of the state was taken over, they were arresting PDP people, alleging they were militants and cultists and I laughed and I said don’t bother let’s wait for Supreme Court judgement. The APC candidate was walking as a governor in Rivers state; they gave him the kind of security which I don’t even have as a sitting governor.
You mean Dakuku Peterside?
Yes. The SSS gave him excess men, the police did the same. You can see me as a governor I was watching the security operatives in the state and I was laughing. I told them look at what you are doing, look at the security you are giving to someone who is not a governor because you believe you have been told by your hierarchy that the man will win, that my election will be annulled and, that is why he lost, he couldn’t believe it. The shock hasn’t left him and that is why they are confused and are saying; this is not what we planned, this is not what they told us.

Would you react to Dakuku’s allegation that you compromised the Supreme Court through Justice Mary Odili?

With all due respect and I can tell you no Rivers man or woman will make that statement.  And that is why I question where the APC candidate actually comes from. Let me tell you something; it is unfortunate that the world we are today nobody looks back. If Dakuku Peterside can descend so low to call the name of Justice Mary Odili then he should know he has a long way to go and he has a problem. This is a person Dr. Peter Odili mentored; he brought Ameachi from nowhere and raised him to where he is by the grace of God. This Dakuku who was he? All of them, all of us were a circle of toddlers. We are not surprised, we thought before now that it would have been the first issue raised long before now. To tell you how they are; you remember my matter got to Supreme Court on the 26th or 27th, the Tribunal gave ruling on the 24th on a Saturday; I can’t be specific now either September, October 26th or 27th, the Supreme Court gave a judgement against me when the issue of venue came up because we had been to the Supreme Court to complain that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction here. Justice Mary Odili was a member of the Supreme Court panel that sat on that matter and the matter was dismissed against me. Dakuku Peterside and APC never saw anything fundamentally wrong when the Supreme Court gave them judgement, dismissing my matter. Did anybody hear them say that she was this and that; no because the judgement was in their favour. Justice Odili didn’t procure the judgement with the husband or she didn’t compromise the judgement of the Supreme Court with the husband. They were happy then. Now when the substantive matter came to Supreme Court where Justice Mary Odili wasn’t even a member of the panel, the same Dakuku Peterside had the guts to say that Dr. Peter Odili and Justice Mary Odili helped me in procuring the judgement, that tells you the kind of country we are in. No wonder the national chairman of the party (APC) has said he “can’t believe that we lost the oil resource states, that even though the oil price has gone down” it is still these states that determine what goes to the federal government of Nigeria. So, all they were after was whatever it takes to win these oil states. I know if you take Dakuku to a psychiatric hospital there is no way they won’t say he has some mental problems and I have challenged them and, whether they like it or not. I had a thanksgiving which was live on TV and I named people who have given me support from time, I named some clergy, so many leaders and, he said that I said Dr. Peter Odili and his wife are my advisers, can you see how a criminal would behave by trying to hide the truth. Dakuku Peterside knows that if election is to be done in Rivers state 30 times there is no way they will win.  They may be relying on the use of federal might, we will use police, we will use the army, we will use the SSS the same way they did at the Tribunal. Soldiers and police who weren’t there when election took place where brought to give false evidence and you want to rely on them so that they will conduct elections and rig election. It is unfortunate that a young man will want to be used to rubbish the Supreme Court.

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Clarify the very serious allegation that you made about Ameachi redrawing 150 million dollars to fund APC, can you provide some evidence?
When they say I am not supporting the fight against corruption I will say you can’t say that. I was the one who set up the judicial panel of inquiry and Ameachi went to court to stop the Judicial inquiry, but the court said no why are you stopping; go and tell them what you know about the sale of our power assets, the sale of Olympia and so many other things. The Court failed to stop the probe and the inquiry went on and he was indicted and he went to the Court of Appeal. Now, as I speak to you, I am not playing politics, what I don’t like in this country today is that everybody will want to say I am not corrupt; I don’t give people money; I don’t collect money myself, Nigerians like those who play to the gallery, they like those who will say I am fighting against corruption. I am not against those who will want to fight corruption; I will support those who are saying they want to fight corruption when I know the genuineness and seriousness about it. So look at the case of Ameachi, it is very clear, you  sold our power house which was built by Dr. Peter Odili when he was governor at the cost of $304 million. Calculate $304 million today with the current Dollar price, let’s take 300 at 100 naira it is 30 billion at another 100 is 30 billion and a third hundred is it not 90 billion? You said you sold it to do what? Where did the proceeds go to? We looked at the books, we said from the 1st to 31 of December 2014 when political activities were going on, when $150 million was withdrawn for what project, that these monies were taken through Bureau de change. Why will you take money through Bureau de change?
And there is evidence. I say there is evidence to prove that, abundant of evidence. What makes Ameachi to shout today, saying go to court; why not? How do you go to court in a criminal allegation and they said send to EFCC? We wrote petitions to EFCC, we wrote to Senate when they wanted to confirm him, you could see the way APC came out to defend him. APC came out on the floor of the senate and it was like a do-or-die affair and we were laughing. Are these the same people that were talking about change? Are these the same people that say they are fighting corruption, while they confirmed Ameachi as minister? I know him very well, what he would have said or which he started telling them ‘oh! you people don’t want to confirm me’ I will shout to the whole world. We know all this and he blackmailed them and the APC leadership came up and took it as a war that he must be confirmed and I was laughing and I said come on, this country is gone. Who is deceiving who here?

I will ask you a very direct question; did you have any contact with any of the Supreme Court judges?
It is so embarrassing and that is why I say people ridicule institutions. Do you know the institution of the judiciary. Let me tell you something, do you know the level of the Supreme Court? It is to tell you the level of ignorance of Dakuku and his colleagues at APC that I went to Dubai to see a Justice, which judge? Go and check my international passport to see if I have ever been to Saudi Arabia. He said I went to Owerri, it is so funny. Anyway, I have instructed my lawyers on what to do, you can’t wake up one day and open your mouth to castigate the whole Supreme Court judges, it is never done, without any evidence. I have never met any Supreme Court justice on my matter. What he is telling us is that he also took charge of the Tribunal and he also took charge of the Court of Appeal and since he didn’t win the Supreme Court that his opponent has taken charge; you see that is the kind of life they live. As I said, my lawyers have told me from day one, we know, be strong we are telling you unless it is not the Supreme Court we know that the Supreme Court will never allow this kind of judgment to stand because it is opposite to the law. When the lawyers call me they tell me ‘your Excellency we can tell you go home and sleep except the Supreme Court will rewrite the law, expect that today the Supreme Court will rewrite the law that they know that today this judgment can never stand. In all legal principles my lawyers told me and he said I know in Nigeria anything can happen but he believes it is not at the point of the Supreme Court; that the Supreme Court will not rewrite the law. So they had believed that by the power and contact they have that everything is over and settled. They sew uniform for victory that they have won. In fact, they constituted themselves as outlaws in the state with the assistance of the security. I can tell you the way PDP members were being arrested and I told them don’t be provoked, be patient. I have been through this, I know what they are looking for, if you play into their hands they will say there is crises in Rivers state and they will declare state of emergency, we know all this games, we know what they have been planning and I thank God my people listened to me and weren’t provoked. As I speak to you today all the persons that were charged by the police, army and SSS are all PDP members and they will tell you that they are criminals and have criminal minds, but let me tell you I will challenge any state that will say they give support to security agents more than me.

Some of the APC people accused you of timing the indictment and petitions with the ministerial screening. In other words, they accuse you of politicising the findings?
It is immaterial whether I timed it or not, what is material is whether he was indicted or not. Timing is not material to what we are talking about, the party that preached about fighting corruption are the ones that came out and said look if you don’t clear this man we will be in a mess, we will be in trouble therefore let’s do everything, let’s protect him. I was watching and laughing and I shook my head and said come on this country is gone. Some of them agreed that Ameachi funded them in the election, the governor of Plateau state agreed that Ameachi funded him, where did he get the money to fund him? Is it his personal money or his father’s money that he used in funding the governor of Plateau state? Some of them are senators, where did he get the money from?
What happens to the report of your Judiciary inquiry?
The judiciary is doing its work and it will come up with whatever the executive council has asked it to do; that is where we are.
You don’t have to wait for EFCC, do you?
I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag but obviously the office is doing something at the end of the day.

Let’s go to your vision for Rivers state, what has been your greatest challenge?
One of the greatest challenges I have had is funding because of the dwindling oil price in the global market. Before now, my predecessor Rotimi Ameachi during his birthday on the 27th of May 2015 at the Cultural centre did say he will see where I will get money to do projects; he will see where I will get money to pay salaries of workers and of course he didn’t pay workers’ salaries for 3-4 months and all other liabilities. So, this has been my greatest challenge but by the special grace of God, as I speak to you today, I have cleared the worker’s salary, I cleared the pension’s salaries, I never collected a dime from the federal government as bailout and I challenge anybody to that. The only thing we benefitted was the restructuring of the total loan owed by the state government and Amaechi was the one who took the loans. Assuming we are to pay in 3 years, by taking the federal government bonds to restructure for quite a long number of years. So, funding has been a challenge but we thank God as you know man proposes and God disposes, we will find a way either by borrow or improving the trade related revenue to fund these projects. Eighty per cent of the projects I am doing today are those ones awarded by the present administration, it is not in our principle that we will not allow abandon projects to rot because we didn’t awarded the contracts.

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So on that basis is the mono rail project on?
It is not possible because of the huge capital involved and again if you ask yourself; what is the value of that mono-rail? From where to where does it go to? 1.2km in a non traffic area we have spent over 30-45 billion Naira, from Agrey Road to UTC Junction. People should stop this politics; with all due respect to the president, the press is part of the problems we are having. Now look at the oil price, how can we do such a project when we are get about 5 – 6 billion a month which is not enough to pay salaries. Go and see it.
You have been roundly criticised for huge borrowings from banks although your critics accuse you of piling more pressure on the state and these debts will be borne by the future generation.
Who are the future generations? The ones they have borrowed who is bearing it now?  You borrowed without paying pensioners and civil servants, you sold our power plants for $304 million, people where not paid. Assuming I am borrowing to pay these debts that they haven’t paid, for the pensioners not to die, for the workers who have worked and are entitled to their wages, to fund those projects which you have abandoned, what is wrong with that? In any case, which government doesn’t borrow? If I borrow 10 million naira and I tie it to specific projects and to say bank give me N10 billion and be collecting from my VAT every month, collect every month from my internally generated revenue, what is wrong with that? Projects must be done; so how am I going to do the projects? We have to borrow. We have a collateral of internal revenue, a collateral of VAT; so what am I mortgaging? I am not mortgaging any future rather I am preparing and creating for the future.

I want to go back to politicking, the PDP, your party, is really in turmoil the entire leadership of the party is in disarray now. We know that governors are influential in party affairs, what is the way out?
Let me tell you what happens. Once a party has lost an election these are the things that come up in a party but that doesn’t tell you that the party won’t bounce back. But with all due respect, with my experience in politics, when you see people who have no political background, who are used to destroying parties, you laugh. We the governors will continue to meet, what are they saying? That the party chairmanship will go to North East, so what? Assuming the party chairmanship will go to North East, is it this same people who can’t win their unit, who are being paid that will emerge? For example, I hear that one Gulak said he is now the chairman of the party. Assuming we are considering that it should go to North east so you will just jump out of nowhere and say you are the party chairman, what kind of rascality is that? Doesn’t that tell you that he is an agent of opposition? Assuming we are conceding that the party’s chairmanship should come from the North East, won’t the relevant bodies choose who will be the chairman? Is it for him to come out of nowhere and say that he has taken over?  Like a coup? These are things that some of us can’t stand. I can go home not as a governor, I can go home any day, any time and win my unit, win my ward, my constituency and win my local government. That is what makes you a politician. Not a politician that is looking for a position to grab. I challenge many of them, what influence do they bring to the party, they have no moral character, they have nothing to show and I begin to ask myself how can human beings operate this way? You just wake up one morning and say I have taken over like a military coup? Fellow countrymen because of the problems we have in this country we have taken over power, what type of system is that? One man from one village in Adamawa just goes and takes over the party secretariat, you can image the military mentality in him. These are people that don’t have political pedigree. The governors are going to meet Monday, Tuesday and it will come up. I heard the secretary of the Board of Trustees who is from Nassarawa state is now the BoT Chairman. Ask him what was his vote? Do you give yourself chairmanship like that? You see, in the next one week they will no longer exist; then you will see them decamp to one party, then you will know where they are coming from. A party that has been in power for a number of years has lost the seat on national level these are the type of problem we see but we will bounce back. Let me ask you one question, do you think as the governor of Rivers state I will seat as governor of Rivers state and see such character at the helm of the affairs of the party. You expect me to sit down now as the governor of Rivers state and attend a meeting such a meeting where such characters will be at the head of affairs. Let’s be serious.
Tell us why your battle with your predecessor has become so personal?
What is personal about it?
I haven’t done anything personal. All I said is that this monies were used and let him tell me where and what they were used for and if I have ever done anything with public funds that were for personal use let him say that I did. I worked with you as his Chief of Staff, bring out anything official that I did but he couldn’t.
Is there any room for reconciliation?
What are you saying? We are politicians you can’t tell what tomorrow will bring. I have nothing personal, he is in APC and I am in PDP. Who knows tomorrow whether he will come back to PDP.

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You did say that if the Supreme Court orders a re-run that  you would have been arrested?
Not just that, let me tell you what happened. They have planned on arresting me. On that day while we were in my living room waiting, my CSO came to me and said we have heard information that they are coming to arrest you so shall we know where to move you? I said I am moving nowhere let them come and arrest me if it is the will of God but that is not the point but why I said I won’t run if that be the case, in an attempt to come and rig the election, my people would have resisted and what would have happened? Violence and Bloodshed, let the people not deceive themselves, our people have the power to resist any act of rigging. It happened in Baylesa, people resisted it, you were hearing people say people died, now look at what would have happened in Rivers state, why would i do that because I want to be governor? That people should die? I will not because of the governorship allow any blood flow. If that will lead to bloodshed then forget it. If they do the election 10 times I will win but look at the casualty that is what I was avoiding. You know that there will be violence because you have security, you want to use security to rig and people will resist and in the process of not accepting that, it will lead to explosion; people will shoot guns, this will happen, that will happen and I said no. They should keep off and I thank God that He changed things with the Supreme Court and that is what Jonathan said in the course of his presidency if blood will flow he will not allow that to happen.  Look at what is happening in many countries ethnic wars and that is because of power; It is not as if the president had nothing to challenge election but he said let there be peace. It is all about patriotism and no amount of money can buy that and anybody who tells you otherwise  is lying,.  What amount of money can solve a war situation. I want to say God I thank you. The governors of PDP will give the people the dividends of democracy.

Source: Thisday


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