By Emma Amaize
PAN Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of traditional rulers, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of Niger-Delta, weekend, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to bring to conclusion the process of collation of the Rivers State Governorship election results and declare the winner, to douse political tension in the state.
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The group in a statement by the National Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, warned against looming danger signals in the region.
He also appealed to the Federal Government “to raise a full-scale investigation into all reports of electoral infractions, including the military, INEC Officials, politicians,” adding “there must be no sacred cows.”
“We also appeal to the Federal Government to de-militarize the Niger Delta, so as to enable every citizen go about his/her lawful endeavors,” it asserted.
The regional body urged President Muhammadu Buhari to note that, “The deployment of the military for election duties, in defiance of a subsisting judgement of the Court of Appeal, has caused untold harassment, killings, maiming, intimidation, voter apathy in the Niger Delta.”
It said, “The military’s defence of atrocities so reported against them were allegedly carried out by suspected thugs in military uniforms, has introduced yet another dimension of confusion and security challenge foisted on the region.”
“The reported killings, militarization, intimidation, electoral gangsterism and the attendant security situation in some states in the Niger Delta, particularly, in Bayelsa and Rivers states, have become a source of worry. “The Abonnema killings in Rivers state, reportedly orchestrated and perpetrated by the military and political thugs, apparently working on the influence of certain politicians with nefarious tendencies, during the Presidential election held on February 23 is a classical example of how certain desperate politicians and soldiers could instigate mayhem on innocent and defenceless citizens.
“It must be noted with every sense of responsibility the dastardly act of militarization, intimidation, killings, electoral gangsterism and brinkmanship, during this period, and particularly heightened during the governorship and House of Assembly polls on March 9, 2019, as was seen in the case of Rivers State, is not one anybody should pride himself about.