‘How Rivers votes for Buhari rose astronomically’

Tonye Cole (C), a Rivers State’s Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and billionaire entrepreneur, speaks during a press conference after Nigeria’s incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected in Port Harcourt, Southern Nigeria, on February 27, 2019. – Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected Nigeria’s president after a delayed poll that angered voters and raised political temperatures, but the opposition immediately vowed to challenge the “sham” result in court. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

The Rivers State chapter of All Progressive Congress (APC), loyal to the Minister for Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has underlined its contribution to the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari who it also congratulated.

The party noted that the result of the just concluded presidential poll was an indication of a new beginning and trajectory with respect to elections in Rivers State.

The Co-ordinator of APC Presidential Campaign Council in the state, Tonye Cole, stated this yesterday while briefing the press in Port Harcourt, the capital.

Cole who was surrounded by party stalwarts, mocked the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for turning out a low figure at the just concluded presidential election, describing it as “a sign of new beginning unlike previous elections where PDP allocated hundreds of thousands of imaginary votes to the party in 2015.”

He lauded the state APC for demonstrating commitment at the election saying: “in an election where we had no candidates, no campaign, APC faithful still turned out with well over 200,000 votes, while the PDP unencumbered by money, full array of candidates, robust campaigns and incumbency power was strictly restricted to the unpleasant reality of recording just over 450,000 votes, the lowest tally of votes they have ever recorded.”

Meanwhile, the announcement of Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the presidential election has engendered unsual coldness in the city.

The Guardian observed that, aside APC members who are excited, the residents seemed not happy over the outcome of the election. No celebration was witnessed in the areas visited by The Guardian.

Speaking further, Cole said: “Gone are the days when political thugs would hijack electoral materials and allocate hundreds of thousands of imaginary votes to their party. The results from the various units, wards and Local Government Areas confirms this and further highlights the depth of rigging and manipulation of the 2015 elections that APC as a party had complained about.

“All that is required of anyone desirous of the truth is to compare the 2015 electoral figures where total votes cast was 1,584,768 with APC getting 69,238 while PDP got 1,487,075; to that of 2019 where total votes cast was 666,585 with APC getting 150,710 (even after 72,000 votes in Emohua was unconstitutionally removed) and PDP getting 473,971 and the story would clearly unfold.

“APC score was in spite of an INEC body that was swift to obeying the judgement but resolute in its decision not to obey an order of Stay of Execution.

Our concerns were further affirmed by Rivers State’s INEC’s refusal to include the over 72,000 votes in favour of the APC from Emohua LGA after being duly collated and announced by the LGA collation officer whose duty it is to so do in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

It therefore means that the Rivers State office of INEC cannot be said to be truly independent as it had no hesitation in allowing the result of Khana, Andoni and other Local Government Areas in favour of the PDP.

“APC has withstood a judicial lynching that has long since baffled legal luminaries of how the justices came about. That PDP would interfere with another party’s internal process that prevents their major competitor.”

He, however, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do the right by restoring all APC candidates, including those for the National Assembly, back on the ballot to enable the people vote for their preferred candidates in the next set of elections.

Cole also expressed dismay over the killings in Rivers State during the elections.

He said: “over the past few days, Rivers State has once again been in the headlines globally for all the wrong reasons. In a nationwide election that sought to elect a President and members of the National Assembly, our dear state was characterized with armed conflict which unfortunately led to the death of innocent Nigerians that had simply sought to exercise their civic duty of participating in an electoral process.”

Expressing sincere condolences to the families who lost loved ones during the elections, Cole assured that the Federal Government would seek justice for them, no matter how long it takes.

He added: “I have been shocked and saddened by statements and comments attributed to the Rivers State Governor that Prof. Charles Dokubo-Quakers, Prince Tonye Princewill and I are responsible for the carnage and deaths in Abonnema last weekend. These malicious and unfounded allegations are being investigated and our lawyers will advise on possible libel suits to take against those who have peddled these wicked falsehoods.

“For anyone willing to expose the truth, the task is relatively easy and the motive particularly clear. Nigerians in their vast numbers were shocked to learn of militant kingpins that were rewarded for their role in the 2015 elections with positions in the State House of Assembly, Local Government Councils and State Government appointments by the Rivers State Government. This is common knowledge and the names of these individuals are known to many.”

Meanwhile, the international community has been implored to prevail on the army to discontinuue its siege on Abonnema in, Rivers State to avert genocide.

The entreaty was made by the chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, Rowland Sekibo, who the Army had blamed for instigating the bloody confrontation with some youths that claimed over twenty lives including that of a lieutenant.

Sekibo said that the military attacked PDP supporters when they resisted one All Progressives Congress member who came with soldiers to cart away electoral materials at Abonnema, which is the headquarters of Akuku-Toru LGA.

He explained that it was despicable and disingenuous for the military to claim the death of a lieutenant was masterminded by him.

“The PDP supporters who came out on that day to exercise their franchise lacks the capacity to confront a well equipped army in a gun battle. The youths only prevented the snatching of electoral materials to protect their votes and democracy,” said Sekibo.

He also denied being the mastermind of unprovoked attack on the military as alleged by the 6 Division of the Nigeria army in Port Harcourt which has continued its search, molestation and victimisation of residents of Abonnema.

He urged the military authorities to crosscheck their source of the information and correct errors and the malicious allegation against him.

Sekibo urged the international community and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the military to leave Abonnema. He said the wanton killings, if not checked, could escalate.

“This is genocide against a defenceless people. The siege on Abonnema is still on with over 17 persons killed and more than 300 persons arrested, with several houses burnt down,” he said.

He decried the wanton killings and destruction of properties, mass arrest of innocent citizens of the area.

He urged the people of the area to remain law-abiding.

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