The activities of soldiers and the seeming political army of President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) deployed for election duties in Rivers State are not going down well with the citizenry.
Soldiers are said to have occupied the homes of some leading chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and allegedly denying voters unfettered access to their polling units.
Though this charge could not be immediately confirmed from the authorities, some concerned insiders say there are party functionaries masking as security personnel in the state.
Worried women in the big oil state were busy, before today’s Presidential and National Assembly polls, praying President Buhari to call Transportation Minister and former Governor of the state, Chibuike Amaechi, to order.
Amaechi and his political allies have been under fire over their alleged threats to unleash violence on the unwilling electorate if they fail to support the APC at the polls.
Coordinator of the state PDP Women, Mrs Ukel Oyaghiri, had on Wednesday pleaded with Buhari to order the withdrawal of military men from private houses across the state.
She made the plea as the home of the Chairman of the state PDP Campaign Council, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, was being occupied by soldiers allegedly acting on the directive of APC leaders in the troubled state.
According to the women, ‘’it is a well known historical fact that in every situation of violence, we, young persons and children bear the brunt because we become widows and orphans. We are greatly saddened and disheartened to know that our own sons have declared war on our people and the land of Rivers.
‘’If the war goes on as they wish, they would succeed in inflicting harm on their brothers, sisters, fathers, wives , mothers and friends.’’
While drawing from their sad experiences of the past, the women said, ‘’we are fully conscious of our rights to elect our leaders in a free, fair and credible general elections devoid of violence and intimidation.
‘’Evidence abound that our rights are being infringed upon by the military and other security agencies. Threats are made publicly by APC chieftains yet security agencies and the Federal Government that swore to defend us turn deaf ears to the impunity displayed brazenly.’’
Continuing, they said, ‘’as law abiding citizens, we are surprised that President Buhari ordered the military to shoot at sight anyone involved in snatching of ballot boxes, feared to promote extra-judicial killings.
‘’We are petrified that this order threatens our right to exist as a people. It is a blank cheque for genocide. Our laws provide penalties for snatching of ballot boxes. How about those who will shoot innocent citizens on the pretext that they are ballot snatchers? How about security forces who directly interfere with the electoral process? How about those who seize result sheets?’’
The vulnerable group claimed that on February 15, armed security forces were deployed with the intention of stopping Rivers people from exercising their franchise, noting that as this election day, President Buhari was yet to guarantee that ‘’Rivers people will be allowed free access to polling units, free from gun-wielding masked officers with the aim of harassing them.’’
They then called on the international community, election observers and agencies of peace building to note and take action on the alleged impunity ‘’so arrogantly displayed by the APC in Rivers.’’