Olusola Fabiyi

Sixteen political parties from Rivers State stormed the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja on Tuesday, asking for the immediate removal of the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ms. Gesilia Khan.Protesters-at-INEC-office

They said the REC must not be allowed to conduct the Saturday governorship and the state House of Assembly elections in the state.

They also called for the removal of the Head of Operations at INEC, Mr. Bocco Ekong, for allegedly conniving with the REC to rig the elections in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The political parties accused the REC of conniving with the PDP and its governorship candidate, Mr. Nyesom Wike, to rig the April 11 elections in the state.

The representatives of the 16 political parties that stormed the commission also signed a petition, which was addressed to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.

The parties are Democratic Peoples Party (Chima Nsirim), All Progressives Grand Alliance (Terry Geoffrey), Peoples Democratic Movement (George Ngbor), Mega Progressive People’s Party (Fubara Jaja), Unity Party of Nigeria (Charles Atata), Action Alliance (Keneth Atata) United Democratic Party (Njoku Prince) and the All Progressives Alliance (Allen Nyeche).

Others are Independent Democrats (Charles Omosuku), People for Democratic Change (Tonye Bestow), Allied Congress Party Of Nigeria (Miller Osu), Peoples Party of Nigeria (Ali Oma), Citizens Popular Party(Gift Eynda), Accord Party (Precious Barido), All Progressives Congress (Davis Ikanya), and the Advance Congress of Democrats (Echefukan Nweke).

In their petition, the leaders of the aggrieved political parties referred to an earlier petition in which they asked INEC to cancel the March 28 presidential and National Assembly elections in Rivers State on the grounds that they were products of compromise by INEC and the PDP.

They listed 25 sins against the REC, which included an allegation that she took over the postings of ad hoc electoral personnel, recruited PDP members as supervisory presiding officers, substituted trained corps members with a list of names submitted by Wike.

They also alleged that under her directive, “Mr. Nyesom Wike supervised the collation of results at the state collation centre even though she knew full well that Nyesom Wike is not the PDP state agent. The PDP agent was Emeka Woke.”

They also said that the REC and Boco held 14 meetings with Wike at his residence to collaborate in all the plots to sway the election in favour of the PDP.

They also alleged that “she facilitated the disbursement of N15m bribe given to Nyesom Wike to each electoral officer.”

They said, “Whilst we await a formal and final resolution of the said March 28 petition, we write to state that Ms. Gesilia Khan, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, was hand in gloves with the perpetrators of the activities that led to compromising the integrity of the elections as it is clear to all objective observers that without her complicity in the activities, the subversion of the electoral process would not have been possible.

“We are aware that no allegation against a public officer should be made lightly or for any purpose other than as envisaged by law, which is the reason we have been painstaking in ensuring that the statements and facts here presented are all easily verifiable and accurate against the person of the REC such that no responsible political party or commission should allow the ignoble situation to persist.”

The political parties’ supporters, who came in their hundreds, arrived at the premises of INEC as early as 7am with placards, chanting as police formed three-layer barricades to stop the protesters from entering the premises.

However, the Director of Department of State Service at INEC, Mr. Shettima Ngillada, received some of the leaders of the protesting political parties and led them to meet the leadership of commission where they were said to have submitted their petition.

Ngillada, after emerging from the meeting with the leaders of the protesting parties and members of INEC leadership, assured the protesters that the commission would look into their petition.

Also, the Generation of Peace, a support group for the APC governorship candidate in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has called for the immediate redeployment of Khan.

The group, also known as GOP, maintained, that there would never be free and fair governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state if Khan was allowed to supervise the exercise.

The spokesman for the group, Mr. Amakiri Amakuro, told journalists in Port Harcourt on Tuesday that the state REC had shown bias against the APC and its governorship candidate, Peterside.

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