An Independent election observer group, the New Initiative for Credible Leadership (NICRel) and its CSO Partners which deployed several observers and monitors to last Saturdays re-run election in Rivers state have commended the Nigerian Army as well as other security agencies for their professional conduct in the face of severe provocation by thugs loyal to politicians.
The group also condemned the killing of police officers and demanded that a proper investigation be carried out to ensure that those found culpable are brought to justice.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Executive Director, Rev. Samson Onwu decried what he described as impersonation of security personnel by thugs loyal to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
He said, “From available information, NICReL reliably gathered that the ruling party in the state and the Nyesom Wike led state government sewed army and mobile police uniforms for political thugs that were then distributed across the areas where elections held.
“We further gathered that while it appears that these heavily armed thugs, some in fake military and police uniforms, went on to engage in acts that tamper with the integrity of the polls, the actual goal is to cast doubt on the professionalism of the impersonated institutions.
“This was why a lot of attention was directed at videos showing fake “soldiers and policemen” assisting in rigging elections. NICReL further noted the haste with which Mr Wike announced that he will no longer fund the Army and Police in Rivers state even when it had never been his constitutional role to do so.
“It is on record that genuine policemen and troops were targeted for assassination as evident in the number of them that were killed when they discovered that they were being impersonated. This worrisome development is unacceptable especially when these security personnel put their lives a risk to provide cover for the election to hold.
“It was in this very Rivers that six security officers were killed in the previous election. This time a DSP and his orderly were beheaded while on election duty.”
He said it is on record that state actors have in the weeks and days preceding the elections been engaged in acts of intimidation against the opposition.
According to him, prior to the exercise, violence and the threat of violence were the order of the day.
He said this violence was not limited to political actors taking on each other as they also targeted law enforcement and security agents.
He said, similar to violence, propaganda was also deployed in an unprecedented scale before, during and after the elections such that any efforts at unveiling the truth of what happened around the Rivers State re-run polls requires remarkable level of neutrality and skills set.
He expressesed dismay that most of the information on which a post mortem of the polls should be based have been tainted by misinformation, disinformation and outright lies garnished with occasional lies.
According to him, a lot of this negative propaganda appeared to have targeted the military and security agencies that provided support for the exercise.