Rivers Rerun: Wike Petitions 50 Countries
By Jame Okoro
Ahead of the re-run scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to hold in Rivers State on Saturday, March 19, 2016, the Rivers State Government has petitioned the governments of 50 countries of the world demanding global surveillance on the process to ensure the conduct of a free, fair and credible election in the State.
The government attempted to draw global attention to the forthcoming Saturday legislative elections in view of alleged threat by the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, to use security forces to rig the election.
The petition which was signed by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dr. Austin Tam-George, and sent to the embassies of the 50 countries, read in part: “I write on behalf of the Government and people of Rivers State, Nigeria, to inform you respectfully of the imminent danger posed to the peace and stability of Rivers State by the actions and provocative utterances of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
The Commissioner accused APC leaders in Rivers State, notably the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi, and 2015 governorship candidate of the APC, Dakuku Peterside, of resorting to “intimidatory tactics and openly inciting violence against members of the People Democratic Party (PDP) and anyone who holds a different political perspective in the State”.
The petition stated: “In a series of media interviews that began with an appearance on “Focus Nigeria”, a live programme on African Independent Television (AIT), in Abuja, and with radio stations in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister for Transportation in Nigeria, continues to use language that is both inciting and dangerously divisive. ”
It added that Amaechi had also publicly threatened to “flood” every polling unit in Rivers State with soldiers in a bid to rig the election in favour of the APC, and described the threat by Rotimi Amaechi to militarize the re-run polls as “alarmingly dangerous and illegal”, noting that the military had no constitutional role in the country’s electoral process.
The petition also alerted that “homes of key leaders of Peoples Democratic Party are being routinely raided and vandalized by Amaechi’s goons, and plans have already been perfected to arrest all leaders of the PDP in Rivers State 48 hours to the election.”
The Rivers State Government expressed disappointment over the fact that repeated appeals to the President to call Mr. Amaechi to order had gone unheeded, and warned that the eruption of violence in a state like Rivers, with “multi ethnic fault lines could cripple Nigeria’s ailing economy, and reverberate across the country’s borders”.
The petition further called on the international community to “urgently initiate and maintain diplomatic pressure on the Federal Government of Nigeria to allow free, fair and violence free elections in Rivers State”.
The petition was sent to the governments of the United States, Australia, China, the European Union, the Chairman of the African Union, among others.