Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has accused his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, of plotting with security agencies to attack offices belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and inciting violence with the intention to disrupt Saturday’s elections in the state. Amaechi on the other hand has accused Wike of working in cahoots with the INEC chairman, Mahmud Yakubu to secure a second term, based on their previous relationship when Wike was minister of state for education and Yakubu was the head of an agency under his supervision.
Backstory: The governor made his accusation in a state broadcast on Thursday. He said Amaechi, who is currently the minister of transportation and the leader of the opposition APC in Rivers state, is liaising with some members of the military and the Nigerian Police Force to carry out strategic attacks on several INEC offices.
“Credible intelligence has linked Rotimi Amaechi and his cohorts in the factionalized All Progressive Congress (APC) with plans to prevent peaceful conduct of the general elections in Rivers State with the support of some unpatriotic military and police officers,” he said.
Wike alleged that several Hilux vehicles painted in military colors and gunboats donated by top officials of the Nigeria Ports Authority have been handed over to militants to carry out attacks during the elections.
He called on the president and the international community to hold Amaechi, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 6 Division of the Nigerian Army and the Mobile Police Commander of Unit 48 accountable if there’s an outburst of violence in the state.
Amaechi’s response: In reaction to the governor’s allegations, Amaechi denied ever working with militants over the duration of his time in politics and asked Wike to provide evidence to back up his claims. Then he fired his own accusation: “INEC is always working for the PDP. For an example, there is a stay of execution granted by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, just because the INEC chairman was a director of TETFUND when Wike was the minister, he has refused to implement the judgment.”
Bottom Line: Rivers state is one of the flashpoint states to watch in the forthcoming elections. A huge portion of the violence recorded during the 2015 elections was recorded in the state, and several rerun and bye-elections conducted since then have been marked by violence and irregularities. With the combative tone of the leading politicians in the main parties, the situation is not expected to change much this time.
One more thing: Amaechi becomes the second top APC official to directly attack the INEC chairman and the credibility of the commission in the past week. The APC chairman, Adams Oshiomhole did same.