The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday 3rd December 2016, convened a stakeholders meeting on peaceful conduct of rerun election(s) in Tai LGA, Rivers State.
In attendance were INEC officials, representatives of the Nigeria Police, DSS, Army and Civil Defence Corps. Also present were stakeholders from the two major political parties, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and All Progressives Congress(APC). Other political parties were also ably represented in the crucial meeting.
Speaking at the meeting, the representative of the Nigerian Army, Warrant Officer Yusuf, vowed to committedly act out the script handed over to him by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Burutai.
Without mincing words, the senior army officer stated that he and his men will shoot at sight if any electorate confronts them to insist that election materials be distributed and delivered to the various polling units, which ideally is the proper conduct and practice worldwide.
With such terse words coming from high ranking and supervising security chiefs, it is therefore clear beyond reasonable doubts that Tai people will on 10th December 2016 witness a repeat of the ugly incident of 19th March 2016, where the army masterminded and supervised the carting away of all INEC sensitive and non-sensitive election materials from Registration Area Centres(RAC) to the residence of one APC chieftain and candidate for Tai-Eleme-Oyigbo Federal Constituency.
It will be recalled that the above incident led to the suspension of the election process by INEC electoral officer (EO) for Tai LGA and further ratified by an official press release by INEC signed by the Rivers State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak.
The biased stand and statement by the security agencies and INEC officials at the Tai stakeholders meeting infuriated and didn’t go down well with all attendees from the various political parties, apart from the favoured APC.
Sparking off further disapproval and reaction was the agenda of the meeting which spelt out in its Item 6b that: “the rerun INEC election(s) will take place in only 11 polling units (PUs) in the LGA for senate and 12 units for House of Representatives across 3 wards of Nonwa, Oyibo West and Ban-Ogoi (i.e wards 7, 8 and 10).
This particular item of the meeting agenda was viewed by the meeting attendees as violating and contradicting the earlier press release by INEC suspending the entire election process in Tai LGA and also going ahead with elections in a matter still lying before a court of competent jurisdiction.
Regrettably, the stakeholders meeting yesterday ended without a concrete resolution and wayforward.
The people of Tai calling on the international community, the Civil right Organisations and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; president Buhari, the Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and Amnesty international to caution the Nigeria Army on the rules of engagement to desist from such planned democratic coup that might cause the death of innocent civilians in that region.