As confusion continues to trail to trail the outcome of just-concluded elections in Rivers State, the Niger Delta Volunteer Congress has accused the state governor, Nyesom Wike of conspiring with the Independent National Electoral Commission to hold the state to ransom.
The equally hailed the Nigerian Military for its role during the election and for restraints it showed in the face of grievous provocations in the oil rich state.
According to the group, the Nigerian Military stood on the side of deepening democracy in the country by deploying its men for election duty as duly directed by the Commander-in-Chief if the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
NDVC rising from an emergency meeting on Wednesday March 20, to review the tense situation that is prevailing over the conduct of Governorship and State House of Assembly Election in the Niger-Delta region faulted the failure of INEC to hold its staff to account after it emerged that many of them, including those in senior positions were compromised and were working for specific candidates and political parties in violation of the neutrality expected of them.
A communiqué jointly signed at the end of the emergency meeting by James Goodluck, President and King- James Egule, Secretary General, called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the INEC staff that took part in the elections in Rivers State, policemen, military personnel and all other actors with a view to identifying the compromised ones among them and to diligently prosecute anyone indicted.
The communiqué reads.
The meeting particularly noted the impasse in Rivers State, where confusion continues to trail the outcome of the elections, such that the prospect of violence remains high. It is obvious that subsequent actions taken by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will have implications for the peace and security outlook of not just Rivers State but the entire Niger-Delta region.
The meeting acknowledged the stabilizing role played by the Nigerian Military during the elections as the deployment of troops was crucial to the fewer incidents of violence that were recorded during the exercise relative to the heightened sense of imminent region-wide violence that had been anticipated.
Attendees however expressed concerns that the deployment of the military was exploited for evil by leading politicians in the region, particularly in Rivers State where thugs and hoodlums in military uniforms impersonated soldiers to cause mayhem at collation centres and other venues of electoral activities. The attendees expressed disappointment that INEC did not properly review the situation before concluding that those that disrupted collation centres and attacked its staff were military simply because of the uniform.
It was noted that the development in Rivers State, owing to its sensitive and volatile nature requires increased security and military presence to deter the violent thugs that are bent on sabotaging the electoral process to favour those that recruited them for such purposes. INEC’s misrepresentation of the vital role played by the military could however jeopardize its ability and that of other security agencies to provide protection to Nigerians during the remaining exercise.
The meeting was of the view that INEC must, within the limitations imposed by ongoing litigations and court pronouncements, immediately conclude the election in River State, and any other place with outstanding elections in the Niger Delta, in order to ease the tension that its poor handling of the process has created.
Niger Delta Volunteer Congress faulted the failure of INEC to hold its staff to account after it emerged that many of them, including those in senior positions were compromised and were working for specific candidates and political parties in violation of the neutrality expected of them.
Attendees observed that the people of the Niger-Delta region owe it a duty to themselves to remain law abiding, eschew violence, and alert law enforcement agencies to any breach as well as provide information that will assist in tracking down perpetrators of violence and those impersonating the military.
Following extensive deliberations and inputs from those in attendance, the meeting recommended that:
The Nigerian Military should be commended for standing on the side of deepening democracy in the country by deploying for election duty as duly directed by the Commander-in-Chief if the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Nigerian Military should be commended for its remarkable handling of the election coverage in states of the Niger-Delta while also being commended for the restraints it showed in the face of grievous provocations in Rivers State.
The Federal Government should order a detailed investigation to identify those that were responsible for mobilizing thugs to impersonate the Nigerian Military with a view to prosecuting anyone indicted as deterrence against the repeat of such dangerous act.
The Federal Government should direct INEC to apologize to the military for wrongly indicting it for the crime committed by hired political thugs in fake military uniform.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should investigate the INEC Staff that took part in the elections in Rivers State, policemen, military personnel and all other actors with a view to identifying the compromised ones among them and to diligently prosecute anyone indicted.
INEC must immediately act in accordance with its own guidelines and extant legislation to bring closure to the situation it has created in Rivers State.
The meeting ended with an agreement to give wide publicity to the recommendations made while appealing to the people of Niger-Delta to remain law abiding.