18th March, 2023
By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Governor Nyesom Wike has claimed that a Director of Security of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ‘breached security’ concerning the conduct of Saturday’s governorship election in Rivers State.
Wike spoke shortly after he voted at his polling unit 7 in Ward 9 of Rumuepirikom community in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State on Saturday.
He said the INEC’s security official he identified as Leebari, carried out that act in favour of Magnus Abe, the governorship candidate of Social Democratic Party, SDP in Rivers who is from Ogoni area of the state like him.
But Wike did not elaborate on what the security breach entails, though he said INEC has denied the claim.
But Wike stated that even if the national headquarters of INEC has denied the allegation, he is satisfied that the security agencies have taken note of the action of Director of Security and are acting accordingly.
“Even if INEC has denied it, which is expected, I can tell you that the Director of Security in INEC headquarters, one Leebari, he was the one who carried out that act because Magnus Abe (SPD candidate) is from Ogoni and the Director of Security is from Ogoni.
“So, I don’t want to go into details, if not, heads will roll. But for the Director of Security in such a sensitive commission to breech security is quite appalling.
“But we thank God that the national headquarters has come out to deny it and security agencies have taken note of it and they are working accordingly.”
However Wike said the conduct of the governorship election, in comparative terms, is quite better than what was experienced during the presidential election of the 25th February 2023.
He said his conviction is predicated on the fact that unlike the delay he experienced with the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in the previous election, only about two minutes were spent to accredit him to enable him to vote.
Speaking on reported voter apathy in some part of Obio-Akpor LGA, governor Wike said when the election of the 25th February 2023 was conducted, some people came out and voted with great expectation.
He said when they did not get what they wanted, they obviously became discouraged.
“It is much better today unlike what we experienced on 25th of February. When the first election comes and goes, and people didn’t get what they wanted, they were discouraged.
“But for whatever it is, the number is still okay. You can’t force people to go and vote. I am happy with the peaceful nature and the way the election is going. It means the security agencies are doing what they are supposed to do.”
Wike cast his ballot without hitch at his polling Unit 7 in Ward 9 of Rumuepirikom community in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area on Saturday
Meanwhile; the Labour party Governorship candidate in Beatrice Itubo also voted in her polling unit 6 ward 1, Emohua local government area.
She described the exercise as peaceful in her polling unit but expressed concerns about emerging reports of irregularities in other parts of the state.
Senator Magnus Abe, Governorship candidate for SDP voted at Ward 16 unit 8 Bera in Gokana local government area.
On his part,the former Minister for Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and immediate past Governor blamed the voter apathy in the state on alleged intimidation of Voters and party supporters by agents of the state government.
He made this observation shortly after casting his vote along with his wife Judith,at Ubima community in Ikwerre local government area of the state
“Some party members were even declared wanted by the state Governor, which he no powers to do.There are reports are everywhere that some communities Town Criers warned those not voting for the ruling party in state to stay away from voting”.
Siminalayi Fubara, Governorship candidate for PDP commended INEC for improvement. He described the process as seamless in his polling Unit,just as it was during the presidential election.
He hoped that the peaceful atmosphere in his unit is replicated across the state.
Meanwhile,there were reports of protests at INEC Registration Area Centre, RAC, in Buguma, Asari-Toru LGA, Rivers State, over absence of INEC Unit Collation Officers and Returning Officers. Chants of “We go gree!” We no go vote!” rent the whole area.