When it emerged on the websites of leading Nigerian newspapers on Tuesday night (February 21, 2017) that an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) panel had indicted security agencies of gross electoral fraud and crime against the Rivers people, I was pleasantly surprised.
Pleasantly surprised because we still have responsible gentlemen who will never be intimidated by police guns and administrative threats.
After the initial surprise, I waited for several hours to see if the report would be celebrated on the Pro APC television house domiciled in Lagos or whether our national television would mention this landmark report. Expectedly, none of them had the courage to broadcast the report.
I was shocked. Yes, I was shocked because a few weeks ago, these television stations made the so-called police panel’s report on Rivers State headlines for days. Now that the report did not favour their principals, they blacked it out. Well, whether they broadcast the news or not, the fact still remains that the INEC panel indicted security agents for being a tool in the hands of the ruling party at the federal level to manipulate the election in Rivers.
The report of the administrative inquiry into the December 10, 2016 Rivers State rerun elections prepared by the INEC, with Prof Okechukwu Ibeanu, INEC National Commissioner as Chairman, has exposed the police, led by Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris, for what they are: A partisan outfit.
The country needs to shore up the integrity of the Police and other security agencies, as regards their roles in the conduct of elections. The police have fallen short of all acceptable standards. The head of the police at this time, therefore, should be made to answer questions.
From the reports published in several national dailies, the police panel is yet to send its so-called report to INEC. Aside from the snippets of the report released by the IGP panel, nothing has been made public for Nigerians to assess the methodology used by the panel to arrive at its predetermined position. The entire fraudulent exercise is shrouded in secrecy for the purpose of diverting attention from the innocent Rivers blood spilled by the police and other security agencies during the Rivers rerun of December 10, 2016.
It is necessary I quote a section of the INEC report: “But, the most mind-boggling were cases of hostage-taking, hijack of materials and physical attacks on INEC officials perpetrated by security operatives. Of singular note was a certain policeman named Fakorede.
“Fakorede first tried to lure INEC staff to travel with him from Port Harcourt to Emohua LGA, under the pretext of enabling them to collate results. But, for the intervention of National Commissioners, we suspect that he would have put our staff in harm’s way. When he failed in his initial bid, he stalked the INEC officials to the collation centre in Port Harcourt and physically assaulted Dr. C. Odekpe and Mrs. Mary Tunkayo. In fact, Dr. Odekpe ended up with a gash on his head and both spent days at the Air Force Hospital in Port Harcourt.”
The police panel exonerated Fakorede, who was caught on video attempting to rig the December 10, 2016 rerun elections. Unconfirmed report claims Fakorede has been promoted. All the SARS personnel that worked with Fakorede were also promoted.
How can security agents metamorphose into security threat, simply because they were instructed to deliver the APC? Why would a constituted security authority assume the position of political thugs just because they want to protect the political interest of a minister? Why on earth would the security agencies agree to lose their integrity because of billions to please one man?
Beyond the fact that Governor Nyesom Wike, a defender of Nigeria’s democracy, has been vindicated, is the urgent need to reform the security agencies and the electoral process. As presently structured, the electoral system has been hijacked, its processes held hostage and democracy relentlessly and repeatedly raped. The ongoing wave of defections at the national level is the fallout of loss of confidence in the electoral process. Feeble-hearted politicians have seen the penchant of the system to rig for the ruling party, hence they want to be accommodated in the rigging agenda.
Nigerians fought for democracy. They struggled to send the military back to the barracks. The military never wanted to go. Therefore, Nigerians must rise up to defend her democracy.
These anti-democratic elements and their associates in the civil society, media and other arms of government will continue to deploy propaganda, falsehood to defend a rejected political party. Nigerians must stand up to resist them.
I shudder when I imagine what would have happened if Governor Wike did not sensitise the Rivers people to resist rigging. They would have taken everything. But God was awake and never allowed evil to prevail over good.