The assassination attempt on the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Tonye Cole and the killing of Samuel Nwanjoku, the younger brother of Azubuike Nwanjoku, lawmaker representing Ikwerre constituency, has elicited reactions from over 40 female based NGOs in the state.
A protest walk which took place yesterday, November 26, started from the 6th Division Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, where the communiqué signed by the NGOs was presented by Gloria Boma Harry, to the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 6 Division Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Jamil Sarham.
The women numbering over 800 walked solemnly through the major streets of Rivers State, chanting, ” There must be peace in our state” , “Enough of these killings in Rivers State”, proceeded to the Department of State Security, to handover a copy of the communiqué.
Despite the heavy rains that poured, the women marched on to the Police Headquarters at Moscow Road, to lay their complaints before the police authority.
The women accused the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, of masterminding the attack on Cole in Old Bakana, a community in Degema Local Government Area and series of attacks on APC members in other communities in the state.
Excerpt of the communiqué reads;
A COMMINIQUE ISSUED BY THE JOINT FEMALE BASED NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs) IN RIVERS STATE ON MONDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 2018
Terms of Reference
Following recent developments in Rivers State for which the security of lives and property of Rivers men and women have been called to question once again ahead of the 2019 general elections, an amalgamation of over forty (40) female based Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Rivers State gathered to express our concern for a peaceful, transparent, violent free and credible election in Rivers State. As the saying goes, evil prevails when good men fail to take responsibility. As such, we have assumed the role of a town crier to draw the attention of security agencies to the fast deteriorating security conditions in Rivers State and to demand that action be taken immediately to avoid unwarranted loss of lives and property. This has become expedient because the events that led to senseless killings in Rivers State, before and during the 2015 general elections started like this and progressed unabated. The beneficiaries of that criminal enterprise which foisted indignity on our people are currently governing the state, while our people bore the brunt of these hideous atrocities.
Consequent upon the fast deteriorating security conditions in Rivers State, we make the following observations:
· Armed boys and gun related conflict is on a steady rise, with the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Bar. E. N. Wike showing absolutely no concern for this trend. Regrettably, this ugly situation is not peculiar to Port Harcourt as almost all the Local Government Areas in the state have become flashpoints for armed related conflict.
· Cult and armed groups have been increasingly emboldened by the Governor who is poised to getting election results at all cost and by all means. This was the prelude to the infamous crimes against humanity that was unleashed on Rivers People in 2015, while opposition politicians became vulnerable and targets. Governor Wike rode on the fears and insecurity occasioned by this scenario to become the Chief Executive of the state.
· On Friday 16th of November, 2018 gunmen stormed Old Bakana in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State where the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Arct. Tonye Patrick Cole was on a visit as part of his ongoing ward to ward consultation. The gunmen who shot sporadically for hours insisted that no political gathering should take place in Bakana except that which is authorized by the Governor. This situation is reminiscent of 2015 general elections where the APC suffered dehumanizing intimidation and killings in the hands of the Wike led PDP. Indeed this is deeply troubling and if allowed unchecked, the tendency of plunging the state into a vicious cycle of insecurity seems more likely. Okirika quickly comes to mind; during Hon. Dakuku Peterside’s campaign for Governor in Rivers State where a Policeman was shot dead as part of the bloody campaign against the APC in 2015.
· In the events leading to the 2015 general elections, over Two Thousand 2,000 APC members were killed by the armed wing of the PDP including Hon. Clever Orukwowu, Chief Ahiaidu and the family of Chief Christopher Adube. The sight of Chief Adube’s house was despicable as seven corpses littered everywhere yet no one was held accountable even when the killers were known as the armed wing of the PDP. These killings of 2015 are not different from the recent killing of Mr. Samuel Nwanjoku, the immediate younger brother of Hon. Azubuike Chikere Nwanjoku, lawmaker representing Ikwerre Constituency in Rivers State.
· The Governor’s desperation to win the 2019 elections is visibly showing and this underscores his desire to undermine the security and lives of our people. The recent list of the three thousand (3,000) man election rigging machinery masqueraded as neighborhood watch clearly vindicates the position that the Governor is willing to do anything to advance his political interest. Besides the timing of the release, many names contained therein are known notorious cultists and kidnappers whose recruitment into the elite strike force of Governor Wike was done in such a clandestine manner that it defied the trust of social contract conferred on the Governor by our people on the 29th of May 2015 to protect lives and property.
It is important therefore to state the obvious and warn of the latent potent danger that may arise as a result of inaction now that those who are supposed to protect us have turned their fierce arms against us.
As NGOs, we made the following findings; that:
· The Governor of Rivers State Chief Bar. E. N. Wike has not made security a core focus of his administration and while he is highly protected in armored vehicles, our people are daily harassed by the disposition of poor security conditions in Rivers State.
· The 2019 general elections in Rivers State will not be different from the 2015 elections in terms of insecurity and killings as the pointers already suggest. Our field based approach of variable index for evaluating crises situation suggest that the key actors who perpetrated the bloody episodes of 2015 are still very active both in Government or friends of those in Government and are willing to protect their enterprise.
· The Governor Chief Bar. E. N. Wike met the Senate committee on INEC during which he reiterated same declaration made in 2015, that INEC officials coming to Rivers State should write their will. This time he extended the bullish treat to members of their families. These antics are beyond intimidating INEC to do his biddings, but clearly reveal the hidden details behind the insecurity and crimes in Rivers State.
· The people of the state are hoodwinked by the passage of the neighborhood watch act which is intended to mask a special election strike force carefully designed to achieve a firm grip on the electoral process. It is difficult therefore to isolate the real intent of those who sat in the Executive Council meeting to approve the formation of a neighborhood watch but, with the sole credential of “control”. Obviously, he who plays the piper determines its tune. As such, the state executive council wanted a neighborhood watch they could control for their own parochial political interest and not the interest of the generality of Rivers State.
· These actors and their agents pride themselves to have mastered the means of circumventing the Military and Police as they did in 2015 and this is indeed worrisome for the image of the security agencies.
We hereby conclude that:
· Governor Wike must as a matter of urgency demonstrate his sincerity in fighting insecurity in Rivers State by publicly condemning and denouncing the activities of armed bandits who are currently on rampage. He must also subject the list of the Neighborhood watch for public scrutiny and let communities have an insight into who supposedly should protect them. The name Neighborhood watch was systematically injected in the narrative as a coloration to coat the idea of community police even when the Nigerian Police is in the exclusive list of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
· The security agencies must rise up to their responsibilities to nip this kind of events from the bud.
· Perpetrators of violence and political crises must not go unpunished.
· The Governor has a moral obligation to protect the lives and property of Rivers People but, so far he has not risen to this responsibility.
· We will no longer submit to the mercy of Governor Wike but, will rise up in defense of our dignity and pride as a people.
NEVER AGAIN WILL GOVERNOR WIKE SUBJECT OUR PEOPLE TO THIS FORM OF SERVITUDE. As such we recommend as follows; that:
· Both the Military and Police must rise up to curb the activities of these Wike boys with immediate effect.
· The formation of a community police is inimical to our democratic values and certainly alien to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
· INEC must hold Governor Wike accountable for whatever happens to any INEC staff or members of their family in view of the recent threat on both their lives and those of their family members.
· Investigating the killings of 2015 and bringing perpetrators to justice remain a fundamental step to achieving peace and justice through the value and reward system.