Alleged plot by some party agents to rig the December 10 rescheduled Rivers State rerun election has been burst by the police, as the police on Saturday uncovered a fake result sheets printing syndicate in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
For the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, the agents allegedly belong to the opposition APC, in the party’s desperate bid to rig the forthcoming Rivers South-East Senatorial rerun.
The printing press, Help-Mate Consult, located at 12, Isiokpo Street, in the D-Line area of Port Harcourt, was alleged to be printing fake result sheets for seven local government areas of the Rivers South-East Senatorial District, when the police stormed the facility upon a tip-off by a concerned Nigerian.
Magnus Abe is the Rivers South-East APC candidate for the rerun elections.
The director of Help-Mate Consult, Atonye Peters, a prominent member of the APC from Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area, claimed that Emma Chinda, an APC leader and former commissioner for agriculture under former governor, Rotimi Amaechi, gave the printing contract to him.
According to Peters, the printing press has already completed the printing of two sets of result sheets for two local government areas before the police got wind of their illegal act.
He was arrested alongside three of his staff, Richard Koko from Okrika LGA, Nanee Godday from Khana LGA, and one Tammy Garrick.
Items said to have recovered by the Police at the printing press include a state-of-the-art printing machine and computer sets. The police were also said to have recovered INEC Result Sheets Serial Number Booklets, which the printer used to authenticate the result sheets.
However, Francis Mobolaji Odesanya, the Rivers police commissioner, said they “will react later” to the development.
The Rivers chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Felix Obuah said the arrest of the fake printers of rerun elections results sheets has vindicated them on alleged plan by the INEC and APC to rig the forthcoming rerun elections.
The Rivers IPAC secretary and chairman of Accord Party, Precious Baridoo also condemned the plot to use fake results sheets to rig the rerun elections. He said that the APC and INEC would be resisted.
Uchechukwu Ichenwo urged the Police to prosecute all INEC and Rivers APC officials found to be involved in the printing of the fake rerun elections results sheets.
Also speaking, chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Rivers chapter, Worlu and chairman of Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), Deacon Princewill warned that, on no account should the matter be swept under the carpet by federal authorities.
But in a strong rebuttal, the Rivers APC denied that any of its chieftain or ordinary members was involved in the desperate illegal act, describing the scenario as Governor Nyesom Wike and PDP deployment of thugs in “fake sting operations.”
The Rivers APC said it “wishes to state that no APC person, chieftain or ordinary member, was involved in any of the purported actions as alleged by Gov. Wike and the PDP assuming without conceding that any such development took place.”
According to Chris Finebone, APC state secretary: “We make bold to state that, at the time of writing this press release, the Rivers State Police Command has not confirmed any such arrest made by its officers and men as alleged. What the governor and PDP are doing this time around is to use their thugs to stage a drama and arrest some innocent persons and detain them in the Port Harcourt Government House without the knowledge of the Nigeria Police.”
According to Finebone, “the information we hear is that the present melodrama is being carried out by Governor Wike and the PDP using one Igbani of the SOS who is a well-known PDP sympathiser who former Police Commissioner Mbu Joseph Mbu used to perpetrate his evil machinations in Rivers State in the past.”
“Again, information at our disposal indicate that PDP and Governor Wike’s thugs are going to individual APC members homes to plant incriminating materials then turn around to harass and illegally arrest and detain them with the help of the likes of Igbani. The activities of this police officer and his associates will be properly unveiled to the public in due course,” the APC spokesperson said.
He said it was worrisome that the whole episode resembles a “replay of a well-known script of political mischief by the governor and the PDP in Rivers State any time elections have been scheduled.”
The opposition party recalled that as the last election was approaching, Governor Wike and the PDP in Rivers State allegedly contrived a story with which they used to arrest and incarcerate an APC chieftain, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree.
“We believe that the same scenario is playing out again; and this time another prominent APC chieftain, Hon. Emma Chinda is being targeted for arrest on trumped up charges purporting a false confessional statement by an alleged suspect,” Finebone said.
He said: “The APC would like to unequivocally state that the party has a zero-tolerance for electoral malpractices, and does not directly or indirectly engage in any form of electoral malfeasance. We advise Rivers people and indeed Nigerians not to fall for Governor Wike’s antics, deliberately contrived to tarnish the image of the APC and its members in Rivers State