Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, yesterday raised the alarm that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had adopted two strategies to rig the 2019 elections for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said INEC intends to print illegal gubernatorial ballot papers for Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom States in order to exclude certain newly registered political parties as a premise for the nullification of the elections of the three states.
The second strategy, according to the governor, is the use of security agencies by the Federal Government to unleash vicious violence on the day of the governorship elections in the three states to facilitate cancellation by INEC.
But the electoral body in a swift reaction, assured Wike that it would not engage in election rigging of any sort. Speaking when he received a letter of nomination as “Independent Newspapers’ Political Icon of the Year 2017”, Wike said credible intelligence available to Rivers State Government indicate that the indiscriminate registration of new political parties by INEC is for this purpose.
He said: “All the mass registration of new political parties is deliberate plan by INEC to manipulate elections in three state.
“Rivers State, Akwa Ibom and Delta States have been earmarked for the printing of ballot papers where some newly registered political parties will be excluded as a ground for the nullification of the elections by the tribunal.
“After the nullification by the tribunal as planned, EFCC will be used by the APC-led Federal Government to arrest the three governors, so that they will not be around during the repeat elections.”
He noted that the entire struggle to hold the Presidential election ahead of elections is one of the schemes at rigging the polls. Wike said the APC Federal Government had performed woefully, hence they have nothing on ground to campaign with, except to use INEC and security agencies to rig.
He said: “APC is not a political party in the true sense of the word. It is a congregation of people who did not want former President Goodluck Jonathan to continue in office for personal reasons.
“The fight against Jonathan was not in the interest of Nigeria. They have realised their mistakes, but they lack the courage to apologise because of their ego. If you move around, you will see that things are bad.”
The governor urged journalists to take up the responsibility of explaining to Nigerians the need to elect a credible Federal Government in 2019. Earlier, the Managing Director of Independent Newspaper, Mr. Ade Adigun, had said that the newspaper nominated the governor as the Political Icon of the Year 2017 because of his commitment to the development of true democracy.
He also commended the governor for his contributions to the revival of PDP as a viable opposition in the country In another development, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, in an interview with Saturday Telegraph yesterday, said if the governor was entertaining any fears, such fears should not be located in the INEC’s conduct of elections.
Oyekanmi said: “Since 2015, this commission has conducted well over 175 different types of election, and it is only one or two that have been nullified by the court, not nullified in the sense of ‘go and do another election’ but they are saying that we should issue certificate of return to no other person other than those who won.
“I think the commission has demonstrated, in the last three years that we are committed to conducting transparent, fair and credible elections. “His Excellency can rest assured that he has nothing to fear; Nigerians have nothing to fear. We will ensure that only votes can count.
The INEC chairman always says that only votes will count in any election conducted by INEC under his watch.” Meanwhile, APC in a response by its spokesman, Bolaji Abdulahi, said this is not the first time PDP would be saying that and what it means is that they are jittery.
”Their position is questioning the integrity of the electoral body and we think it is not right for them to question the integrity of INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections.”