Wike, Amaechi accuse each other of sponsoring violence
Ahead of the Saturday’s rerun elections in Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike of the Peoples of Democratic Party and his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi of the All Progressives Congress have reignited crossfire, heating up the build-up to the polls.
Mr. Amaechi, now Minister for Transport, on Wednesday accused Mr. Wike of being behind the “Rivers killings” and sponsorship of violence that marred the 2015 general and March 19 rerun elections in the State.
Following court rulings that invalidated the 2015 National Assembly and State Assembly elections in Rivers State, the Independent National Electoral Commission had conducted rerun polls in the State. But the elections was marred by violence, causing suspension of the exercise – now to be held on December 10.
“Wike has not denied he did not kill people,” said Mr. Amaechi in statement on Wednesday from his media office.
“He sponsored those who carried arms in the 2015 general elections, even, during the campaigns, our people were beaten, manhandled and others threatened, leaving many dead, but, we will not continue to allow these things to happen like that. Members of the PDP were also responsible for killing APC members in Omoku.”
According to the statement, Mr. Amaechi made the attacks when he arrived at Port Harcourt International Airport for the rescheduled elections.
He said the cache of arms and ammunitions Mr. Wike recovered from suspected cultists during the first phase of the Rivers State Amnesty Programme were evidences to buttress his allegations.
But Mr. Wike countered Mr. Amaechi to whom he had served as Chief of Staff when the latter first served as governor of the oil-rich state.
In his reaction through the State’s Commissioner for Information, Sam Tam-George, he described Mr. Amaechi’s claims that he was behind the “Rivers killings” as sewage of lies.
Rather, he said, Mr. Amaechi was responsible for violence in the state.
“Rotimi Amaechi is probably the most toxic political personality in Rivers State because of his history of financial recklessness and visionless leadership during his time as governor of Rivers State,” the Commissioner, speaking for Mr. Wike.
He added that “funds meant for the payment of salaries of workers and pensioners were diverted by Mr. Amaechi to sponsor the political activities of the APC, thereby plunging millions of families into abject poverty and misery.
“While the APC-led Federal Government may have granted Amaechi unofficial amnesty ,the Rivers people have a long memory, and would continue to reject Rotimi Amaechi and the APC in Rivers State.
“Mr. Amaechi’s attempt to steal the mandate of the people on Saturday through the force of arms would be resisted and defeated once again.”
Mr. Wike had earlier alleged that INEC was cooperating with the APC to rig the elections.
Specifically, the Rivers Governor said the electoral body planned to use “fake collation officers” in a bid to help Mr. Amaechi’s APC.
This was denied by Mr. Amaechi who boasted of his stewardship while leading Rivers State.
“If Governor Wike and the PDP have justifiable evidence, let them present it to the general public and stop blackmailing me or INEC and Police. The allegations are immaterial, null and void. Why is Wike and PDP making too much noise and fruitless allegations?”
He insisted that he is more popular than “all those in the PDP”.
“This is so because, as Governor then, l overhauled the Health and Education sectors by promoting Free Health care system and Free Education, over 10,000 teachers were employed, including the building of critical infrastructures, roads and youth empowerment, making Rivers people and other Nigerians to experience change. So l am very sure l had more popularity than any PDP stakeholder including Governors across the country.”
However, INEC has denied allegations of compromise.
Speaking after the swear-in of INEC’s National Commissioners at the State House, the Chairman of the Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said INEC was committed to conducting free and fair elections.
The elections will hold across three senatorial districts, eight federal constituencies and 10 state house constituencies, requiring deployment of 10,294 electoral staff.
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