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#RiversRerun: Wike’s chief of Staff Held Over Attack On APC Chiefs

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A few of the results of the National and State Assembly rerun, held on Saturday, were released on Sunday with the Peoples Democratic Party leading in the few results.

In the results, the PDP has won 10 out of the 11 state constituencies where election was not cancelled.

The results, which were declared at the state constituencies of the Independent National Electoral Commission, indicated that the APC won in only the Bonny Local Government Area while the PDP won in Ahoada, Akuku-Toru, Omuma, Degema, Ahoada East, Ahoada West, Emuoha, Obio/Akpor and in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGAs.

However, in the continuation of the violence that marred the poll in some areas of the state on Saturday, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, escaped death by a whisker on Sunday when a group of gunmen opened fire on his vehicle.

While Peterside was lucky to have escaped death, his orderly, Emma Esi, was cut down by the bullets of the assailants.

Also, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, who spoke with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Sunday, alleged that the Personal Assistant to his Chief of Staff was killed by security operatives.

Wike said, “My Chief of Staff called me and said that they shot his PA and as we speak with you, he is dead.”

It was gathered that Peterside’s vehicle was also conveying the Rivers State Chairman of the APC, Dr. Davies Ikanya, and a former House of Representatives member, Honourable Asita, when the incident happened.

Peterside was said to have been trailed by the gunmen, a development that forced his driver to make a detour to the office of the Department of State Services located at Forces Avenue, Old GRA, Port Harcourt.

It was learnt that Peterside decided to move to the DSS office to escape from the suspected assailants, who, however, followed their target to the office.

The gunmen were said to have fired sporadically for about 35 minutes, a development that scared motorists and passersby on the Forces Avenue.

Peterside, in a statement in Port Harcourt, said, “Two Jeeps belonging to Emeka Woke, Nyesom Wike’s Chief of Staff, carrying two unknown gunmen, trailed us to UTC Junction and opened fire on my car. Our car, however, did a detour to the DSS office gate, where we drove to seek refuge but the unknown gunmen opened fire again on the SSS men on guard.

“The exchange of fire between the DSS men and the assailants lasted for more than 30 minutes. This is a very ugly experience but I thank God that my colleagues and I escaped unhurt. Today’s experience is not only terrifying but also shows the parlous state of security in Rivers State.

“If I can be engaged openly by gunmen for nearly an hour in the heart of Port Harcourt, only God knows the fate that will befall members of our party and those sympathetic to our predicament. What is happening today in our dear state is not only horrible, but also constitutes serious national security risk.”

But Wike told newsmen in Port Harcourt on Sunday that the Personal Assistant to his Chief of Staff was killed by security operatives.

He said a group of men escorted by security operatives, had gone to the Ikwerre Local Government Area to hijack election materials and one of the people, who went after the men, was the personal assistant to his aide.

The governor stated that the man, who was not named, was shot while trying to ensure that the stolen election materials were retrieved.

Mr. Emeka Woke is the Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt.

Though unconfirmed report had it that Woke had been arrested by the DSS, a security source told our correspondent that he was not aware of the arrest of any state government official.

Earlier, there was confusion at the Mile One Police Station in Port Harcourt on Sunday when the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi; Wike and Peterside suddenly appeared at the station.

It was gathered that an ad hoc staff of INEC suddenly disappeared with a result sheet and other election materials on Saturday.

The woman, according to sources, unexpectedly appeared at the Mile One Police Station, a situation that raised suspicion among supporters of the PDP and the APC.

The huge crowd of party supporters and soldiers heightened tension in the place as the state governor went inside the station to inquire what went wrong.

It was learnt that the INEC ad hoc officer, Mrs. Ekwi Adebisa, was said to have claimed that she was kidnapped on Saturday.

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The crowd at the station had thought that Adebisa, who was a collation officer during the state and National Assembly election, was planning to rig the election.

The crowd, however, dispersed when Wike, Amaechi, Peterside and other top politicians in the state left the Mile One Police Station.

Adebisa was booed by the crowd as she left the station with some top politicians in the state.

Meanwhile, the Commander of 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Brig.-Gen. Stephenson Olabanji, has confirmed the arrest of the Secretary to the State Government of Rivers State.

Also confirmed to have been arrested is a Special Assistant to the governor.

Olabanji disclosed this on Sunday at a joint security news conference in Port Harcourt.

He said both men were arrested in the Gokana and Khana Local Government Areas on Saturday for allegedly committing electoral offences.

The commander added, “Many people were arrested yesterday for disrupting the electoral process and the law is not meant for just the lower cadre alone.

“No matter who you are, if you go against the law, you will definitely face the music.

“So, there is nothing like being Secretary to the State Government; many people were arrested as you have been told; a lot of people were arrested.”

Olabanji denied claims by the state government that some commissioners and other top officials were manhandled by the Army during the Saturday exercise.

Also, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 6, Mr. Baba Bolanta, said on Sunday that the police had arrested 24 persons in connection with the violence and irregularities that marred the Rivers State rerun on Saturday.

INEC had, on Saturday, conducted the National Assembly and State Assembly rerun across the state.

The elections were marred by violence and irregularities leading to shootings and killings in some local government areas of the state.

Addressing journalists at the Rivers State Police Headquarters in Port Harcourt on Sunday, Bolanta said of the 24 suspects in police custody, 22 were males and two females.

He said the deployment of troops in the state drastically assisted in leveraging the palpable fear associated with the election.

He, however, said some pockets of security breaches were recorded in some places.

He said, “It is pertinent I let you know that we have 24 suspects, comprising 22 males and two females in police custody, who were arrested in different parts of the state. They are currently undergoing interrogation on allegations of criminal or electoral offences or both.”

He said he was startled by the outrageous figure of deaths associated with the elections as dished out by the media, admitting that four persons died during the election.

“To put the records straight, four deaths were recorded with two in Buguma while Nanwa Tai and Omuanwa recorded one each,” the AIG stated.

He appealed for the continued and sustained support and cooperation of the members of the public to enable the police and other security agencies to discharge their constitutional mandate of protecting lives and property.

In another development, INEC has suspended the federal and state legislative election held across the three senatorial districts of Rivers State in two more local government areas.

The two councils where election was suspended by the electoral umpire on Sunday are the Etche and Asari-Toru LGAs.

With the suspension of the poll in two LGAs, on Sunday, the number of LGAs where election has been suspended rose to eight.

The Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Aniedi Ikoiwak, had, while suspending the polls in six LGAs of Khana, Gokana, Eleme, Bonny, Andoni and Tai, hinged the reasons on irregularities and violence.

The REC in a statement on Sunday said the decision to suspend the exercise in the affected places was due to irregularities and violence.

Ikoiwak added, “Further to our earlier pronouncement on the suspension of the rerun in the six LGAs of Khana, Bonny, Gokana, Andoni, Tai and Eleme, following disturbances and violence that impeded the electoral process in those parts of the state, it has also become necessary to suspend the election in the Etche and Asari-Toru Local Government Areas for the same reasons.”

Ikoiwak stated that the suspension was to forestall a breakdown of law and order or loss of lives and property.

He said the commission was at the moment studying the situation in other 15 LGAs where collations were ongoing.

Punch


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