Governor Nyesom Wike, on Friday, March 22, described the alleged involvement of the Nigerian Army in elections as the worst in the history of the nation judging from what happened in Rivers state.
Wike said the Nigerian Army's alleged political interference in the state is the most unfortunate infraction in the nation's democratic experience.
The governor also formally requested for the redeployment of the General Officer Commanding ( GOC) 6 Division, Major General Jamil Sarhem, for deliberately subverting the general elections in Rivers state.
The governor made the demand when he granted audience to the Nigerian Army committee on electoral violence during the 2019 at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
“Throughout my experience politically, I have never seen the Nigerian Army play the kind of role they played during the last general elections.
“The Nigerian Army purely made political interferences all through. We will show you the visuals of the roles played by the Nigerian Army. If you go to the 6 Division, unless they have moved them out, you will see ballot boxes and electoral materials. The 6 Division served as the take off base for the electoral interference.
“We formally request that appropriate sanctions be meted out to the GOC of the 6 Division. It has never happened that the Army Division becomes the operational base of a political party. This GOC became actively involved in politics. He has his own Government in Rivers state. He has no respect for civil authority.
"We seek the immediate redeployment of the GOC, Major General Jamil Sarhem. He cannot fight crime. Leaving the GOC here, will be creating more crisis. He is here to fight crime and not to play politics. If soldiers fight crime, the way they intervened in last elections, there will be no kidnapper anywhere,” he said.
The governor noted that elections took place across Rivers state in the polling units. He noted that aside Abua/Odual local government area, Rivers people voted.
Wike regretted that the challenge came during the collation, when, he said, operatives of the Nigerian Army invaded centres to cart away ‘Form EC 8C’ for the governorship election and ‘Form EC 8b1’ for the House of Assembly elections.
"Elections took place in Rivers state at the polling units. The only LGA where elections did not hold was in Abua/Odual.
"It was during the collation that operatives of the Nigerian Army interfered. They will invade a collation centre, arrest the electoral officer, returning officer and mercilessly beat up the PDP agents. They carted away Form EC 8c for the governorship election and Form EC 8b for the House of Assembly elections,” Governor Wike told the Army investigative committee.
A statement obtained from the governor’s spokesperson, Simeon Nwakaudu, Wike took time to enumerate the areas where the Nigerian Army unleashed violence and deaths on Rivers people. He also listed the names of Army personnel who led the operations.
The governor regretted that the Nigerian Army was relegated beyond comprehension as the GOC took orders from the minister of transportation on the deployment of soldiers to opposition leaders in the state.
According to the governor, the situation became so bad that the minister of transportation had more than a platoon of soldiers attached to him each time he visited Rivers state to carry out his anti-democratic activities.
The governor further stated that soldiers indiscriminately arrested and detained over 200 PDP leaders agents and supporters at Bori Camp before, during and after the 2019 governorship elections.
He said as a sitting governor, he has no soldiers attached to him, but ordinary opposition leaders have several soldiers attached to them for illegal activities during the elections.
Governor Wike urged the committee to ensure that it unravels all the illegal actions taken by the Nigerian Army during the elections.
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The governor particularly decried the invasion of the home of the Rivers state education commissioner, the harassment of his family and his subsequent arrest.
Governor Wike informed the committee that in one of the post election briefings at Bori Camp, the GOC wondered why the soldiers failed to kill him.
The chairman of the Nigerian Army investigative committee on electoral violence, Major General Ayibakuro Gagariga, explained that the team was created by the Chief of Army Staff to investigate allegations of misconduct against the Nigerian Army.
"There was the killing of Lt Gumi in Abonnema. Others were also killed during the elections in Rivers state. There is also the allegation on the attempt to assassinate the Rivers state governor,” he said.
Legit.ng earlier reported how scores of protesters on Thursday, March 21, stormed the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt, over the alleged arrest and continued detention of Kenneth Opusungi, an aide to Governor Nyesom Wike.
The protesters were from Akuku-Toru local government area where Opusungi, who is the chairman of the Rivers state government Joint Task Force on pipelines and petroleum, hails.
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