Ben Ezeamalu


A witness testifying at the ongoing Rivers State Commission of Inquiry into election violence, Thursday, narrated how his insistence to see the result sheets on an election day triggered a scuffle that left him half-blind.Chidi_Odinkalu

Thankgod Igwe, a resident of Agbo-Nchia in Eleme local government, said one of the people that pounced on him landed an iron rod on his left eye.

He said he was working as an agent for the All Progressives Congress, APC, on March 28, the day of the presidential election.

“On that very day, I discovered there is no result sheet when we started accrediting,” said Mr. Igwe, 38. “As an agent, I have to ask about the result sheet. If there is no result sheet, we don’t know how the election will go.

“As an agent, I said this election will not commence because there is no result sheet. There was a lot of argument between the PDP people and me. We were exchanging words. They said the election must hold. There was a fight. They beat me up and blinded my eye.”

Mr. Igwe said he is familiar with his attackers, including the one who struck him in the eye.

During the attack, Mr. Igwe said that his screams for help were fruitless as prospective voters and police officers fled the scene.

“There was no movement that day,” Mr. Igwe said. “Everybody started running. One of my brothers ran to their house, brought a bike and carried me to a clinic. The clinic rejected me, and directed me to one of the clinics at Elelenwa. They rejected me again.

“They now took me to BMH. There they said they cannot take me to the theatre because my BP (blood pressure) was high. After three days, they controlled my BP and moved me into the surgery department.”

The father of two said he was hospitalised for two weeks and had spent N200,000 so far on medical bills.

The Rivers State Commission of Inquiry, instituted by Governor Rotimi Amaechi, is probing politically-killings and destruction of properties before and during the 2015 general election.

After an unsuccessful attempt to stop the Commission via a court restraining order, the Peoples Democratic Party in the state boycotted the sitting.

On Thursday, the Commission moved its sitting to Eleme local government secretariat where three witnesses gave evidence of assault and attempted murder.

Walter Olaka, an APC member in the community, said some gunmen in military fatigues opened fire on them following an argument over whether INEC officials would produce the election result sheet before the start of accreditation.

“On the 28th of March, while I was at Unit 2, there was this complaint that since the result sheet is not available, some group of PDP members want to force pressure on voters to commence voting,” said Mr. Olaka, the youth president of Ogale community.

“I went there with the peace-keeping team and saw that they were actually demanding for result sheet. While I was still there, some PDP people came towards us.

“I heard one making a call saying that the youth president is here. After that phone call, not up to 30 minutes, we saw about three Hilux coming towards the market street with full headlight.

“When those people came out, first thing they did was they started shooting. We actually moved back. But since they didn’t make harm in their shooting, we now went closer.”

He said that when they moved closer, a soldier opened fire on them, shooting one Chris Nneji who was beside him.

“Initially, when we ran away, those boys that made the call moved closer to the Hilux and were discussing with them,” he said.

Mr. Olaka said that after Mr. Nneji, whom he described as his ‘boy,’ was shot, the wounded man managed to crawl for about 30 metres before dying.

He said he quickly informed the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, of Eleme; a journalist from Inside Eleme, a newspaper; and the paramount ruler of the community about the incident.

“The DPO sent Inspector Monday to the place,” Mr. Olaka said. “He told me he would be going back to the DPO to give him the report.

“What the police did was the DPO came in a Hilux and carried the deceased to Last Home mortuary. The corpse is still in the mortuary.”

He said that he experienced a second physical attack on April 16 when gunmen entered into his home and shot at his siblings.

Another witness, Marcus Tetenwi, said that soldiers accompanying one Olaka Nwogu, a politician in the community, shot at his vehicle on March 28 after an argument over election result sheets.

“That very day, (Mr. Nwogu) actually took over the whole scenario with military men intimidating and harassing people,” said Mr. Tetenwi, an indigene of Alesa-Eleme and the chief protocol officer at Eleme local government.

“They were chasing me because I demanded for the result sheet,” he said.

Chidi Odinkalu, the chairman of the Commission, adjourned the inquiry to Friday.

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