While stressing that there should be no sacred cows in the investigation, PANDEF also urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to bring to conclusion the process of collation of the Rivers State Governorship Election Results and the winner declared, so as to douse the political tension in the State.
In a statement by the National Secretary of PANDEF, Alfred Mulade and made available to the Nation, the group appealed to the Federal Government to de-militarize the Niger Delta, so as to enable every citizen go about his/her lawful endeavors.
The statement reads: “The reported killings, militarization, intimidation, electoral gangsterism and the attendant security situation in some states in the Niger Delta, particularly, in Bayelsa and Rivers States, has become a source of worry.
“The Abonnema killings in Rivers State, reportedly orchestrated and perpetrated by the military and political thugs, apparently working on the influence of certain politicians with nefarious tendencies, during the Presidential election held on February 23, 2019, is a classical example of how certain desperate politicians and soldiers could instigate mayhem on innocent and defenceless citizens.
“It must be noted with every sense of responsibility the dastardly act of militarization, intimidation, killings, electoral gangsterism and brinkmanship, during this period, and particularly heightened during the governorship and House of Assembly polls on March 9, 2019, as was seen in the case of Rivers State, is not one anybody should pride himself about.”
PANDEF stated that the show of brigandage allegedly demonstrated in Rivers State, by the Army, the Air Force, the Police and other paramilitary personnel by invading the Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) Office in Port Harcourt, in a bid to arm-twist and intimidate the INEC Officials in a bid to swing the results of the election to a predetermined candidate, is very dangerous for democracy.
The Forum noted that the action by the military, was condemnable, and should be condemned by every lover of the Nigeria project, adding that for the fact that the Army issued a denial of their involvement in the shameful act was not enough to completely exonerate them.
It added that the more the denials from the Military, the more their professionalism, rules of engagement, efficiency and neutrality becomes foggy and doubtful.
“Is the military ‘crying’ that bloody civilians’ have taken over their duties?
“If the Theory of neutrality being canvassed by the military is anything to go by, how come the harassment of innocent Niger Deltans in the likes of Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, HRM Ateke Tom, Traditional Ruler of Okochiri – Okrika and a host of others?.
“Why has the Army been so involved and entangled with election matters that they are now being out-smarted by so-called civilians-in-uniform?” the statement querried.
“It must be placed on record, and the Federal Government must be reminded that, the Army, statutorily, has NO business with election duties, and so should NOT have been so deployed, in the first place. This is a matter that has been conveniently laid to rest by the Court of Appeal, in 2015,” the statement read further.
Author: Bolaji Ogundele, Warri