Thousands of protesting leaders and members of the Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday shut down Port Harcourt, the state capital.
The protesters demanded police’s thorough probe of the leaked audio tape of bribery, with Governor Nyesom Wike threatening to kill officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who refused to support the rigging of the December 10 rerun in the state.
The Deputy Governorship candidate of the APC during last year’s election in the state, Mr. Honourable Asita, led the protesters from the party’s state secretariat on Forces Avenue, old Government Reservation Area (GRA) to the police headquarters on Moscow Road and later to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Port Harcourt, where protest letters and copies of the rigging audio tapes were dropped, for onward transmission to their bosses in Abuja.
Besides Asita, a lawyer and a former member of the House of Representatives, other APC leaders who joined the protest included the Rivers Chairman of the party, Chief Davies Ikanya; a former Rivers Commissioner for Agriculture, Emma Chindah; Deputy National Secretary of APC, Oji Ngofa; ex-Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG), Dame Aleruchi Cookey-Gam, and a former Chairman of Khana-Ogoni Local Government Council, Akpo Bari Celestine, among other eminent politicians. The protesters were chanting: “How many policemen Wike go kill?” and “Wike is a killer man, killer man all the time.” Some of the placards of the APC members read: “Wike, you are a liar”, “Police tried their best during rerun, but Wike won’t let them be”, “Wike, you are a disgrace to Rivers people”, “We thank the police for preventing more loss of lives”, “Wike, you are wicked”, “Wike, leave the police to do their work” and “Rivers REC of INEC must go.”
The APC members were received by the Rivers Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Cyril Okoro, who assured that APC’s protest letter and rigging audio tape would be forwarded to the Inspector- General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, but urged the protesters to disperse peacefully, in order to prevent a situation that might lead to the breakdown of law and order. Speaking, Asita said: “We are protesting against the violence associated with the December 10 rerun in Rivers State. We believe that politics is about canvassing for votes and allowing the electorate to vote for candidates of their choice. In Nigerian politics, we have the worst cases of killings, intimidation and violence in Rivers State, especially during the campaigns and elections.
“We have complained. We have written many petitions to the police, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Presidency, about the violence. The violence in Rivers State is no longer against our party members, but also against security agents.
Just last Saturday (December 10), DSP Alkali Mohammed of Mobile Police Unit 48, was beheaded along with his orderly while many policemen are still missing since then. “Rivers governor has been on air, announcing the names of gallant policemen: the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of Operations, Steven Hasso, and the Commander of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Mr. Akin Fakorede, who refused to take bribes, who decided to stand on the path of truth and protect lives and property.
The governor has been scandalising and intimidating the senior police officers. Wike should leave Hasso and Fakorede alone. Asita also described as laughable, Wike’s defence of the rigging tape, which has gone viral. He said: “Wike has been threatening that he has a tape to show Nigerians, about meetings between our party and policemen, which he has failed to show. So, we have come with our own tape. This is the first episode, showing where he (Wike) was bribing officials of INEC and threatening to kill them, if they refused to rig the elections for the PDP and that they would not leave Rivers State alive, if they refused to do his bidding.
That was why there was large-scale rigging in the state. Even where elections were not held, results were declared for PDP. “We will produce more episodes of the tape. Wike is unable to produce his own tape. With the tape Rivers APC is handling over to you, you can start investigation immediately.
“In Rivers State, PDP members have killed many soldiers, policemen and other security agents. We had cases where PDP leaders went to the prisons to release known criminals.’’