Outrage As Army Clamps Down On PDP Chieftains …Women Protest Arrest Of Wike’s Liaison Officers …PDP Demands Release Of Commissioner, Others

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Members of Impact Future Nigeria, protesting against alleged “Militarisation of Electoral Process in Nigeria”, at the front of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, last Wednesday.

The Rivers State Government has accused the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and the General Officer Commanding 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen Jamil Sarham, of masterminding the mass arrest of innocent Nigerians and prominent members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
The government alleged that the essence of the arrests was to precipitate crisis and cause the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the elections in Rivers State.
It also alleged that the minister planned to use the vacuum created by the absence of the arrested leaders to rig the governorship election and force a candidate of his choice against the will of the people.
The state government made these accusations in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Barrister Emma Okah, following the arrest of the state Commissioner for Education, Dr Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja and his family by soldiers, last Wednesday evening in Port Harcourt.
“We have been saying it repeatedly that the minister of transportation has been commanding the Army in Port Harcourt to do unprofessional things and the crisis are spreading.
“He has been boasting that he has brought soldiers from Sokoto and other states to carry out his political agenda of disrupting or rigging elections on Saturday,” the statement added.
According to the statement, “any arrested person would be kept behind bars till after the governorship elections in the state.
“A lot of prominent persons have been pencilled down for arrest. Some of them are, former governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia; former deputy speaker of House of Representatives, Rt Hon Austin Opara; state PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah; elder statesman and former chairman of UBA, Chief Ferdinand Anabraba; Sen Olaka Nwogu; Chief Sergeant Awuse; Sen Lee Maeba; former sports minister, Dr Tammy Danagogo; former transport minister, Dr Abiye Sekibo; former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea, Amb Desmond Akawor; Prince Emma Anyanwu; the Secretary to the State Government, Sir Kenneth Kobani; Ejor N. Ejor, Prof Blessing Didia, members of Rivers State House of Assembly; PDP candidates and National Assembly members-elect; Alabo David Briggs, all commissioners and special advisers; local government council chairmen, Sen Thompson Sekibo, Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka, etc.
“In the light of this development, the government calls on all PDP members not to be cowed by this development but be vigilant and resist arrest by these people,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, hundreds of women have staged a protest in Rivers State following the arrest of Nathan Menabere, the liaison officer of Governor NyesomWike, in Ogu and six other members of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Ogu, Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of the state, by alleged military men.
The protesters, who appeared in black attires with placards bearing several inscriptions such as, ‘Army Release Our Innocent Brothers’, ‘Stop Raping the Peace of Ogu’, ‘We Say no to intimidation, ‘Oh! Security Agencies, Why the Intimidation?’ demanded the immediate release of the arrested persons. Speaking, leader of the protesting women, Mrs. Christiana Tamunobereton-Ari, disclosed that the military personnel invaded the area around 1:00am, yesterday, broke into homes and picked their victims.
Tamunobereton-Ari, who is the Vice Chairman of the LGA, alleged that the development was political, wondering why there should be arrest when there was peace in the area.
She said: “We are here to let the nation know what is happening in Ogu. We are a peaceful community. Last night some military men came into our community and picked some of our people.
“They broke into their houses and arrested them. They did not even report to the security agencies in our place. As it stands, over seven people have been arrested.
“We are condemning this act of intimidation and we call on the military to stop this unlawful arrested and release our people.”
Meanwhile, Mrs. Fyne Nathan, wife of one of the arrested persons, narrated that the military men invade their home and forced her to open the house door on gunpoint.
In her words: “The military men came to our house while we were sleeping, around 1:00am. They knocked the door and we refused to open the door, because we don’t know who was knocking.
“We asked whom they were, they said they were military men, and I refused to open the door, because it is late in the night. One of the military men opened the window glass and pointed his gun at me to open the door.
“When they entered, they arrested my husband. They broke his head and forced him to follow them. He asked then what his offence was but they shut him up. I am calling on them to bring back my husband.”
However, the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for the immediate release of the state Commissioner for Education, Dr. Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja, his family members and the state Co-coordinator of Arise Nigeria, Hon. Benjamin Diri, who were allegedly arrested by the Nigerian Army, 6 Division, Port Harcourt.
A statement by the PDP Rivers State, signed by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro. Felix Obuah, Jerry Needam, said Gogo-Jaja with his family and other members of his household were whisked away by a fleet of fierce-looking soldiers who stormed his GRA Phase 3 residence by about 2pm, last Wednesday.
The statement regretted that the military in Rivers have not only usurped the responsibility of the police but have also “been dragged into full-time politics by some anti-democratic elements and enemies of the people,” describing the development as very unfortunate.
The state PDP wondered “what could be the offence committed by the state education commissioner, his wife and children that the Army would abandon their primary duty of protecting the Nigerian territory against external invasion to carrying out the function of the police.”
The PDP said the action of the soldiers of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army was politically motivated.
“The Army,” the state PDP noted, “should realize that their integrity is at stake as elections will come and go but the Army remains as a national institution.”
Meanwhile, huge protest hit the state, yesterday, as hundreds of women demonstrated on the streets following the arrest of the liaison officer of Governor Nyesom Wike, in Ogu, Nathan Menabere, and six other members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogu, Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of the state, by alleged military men.
The protesters, who appeared in black attires with placards bearing several inscriptions such as, ‘Army Release Our Innocent Brothers’, ‘Stop Raping the Peace of Ogu’, ‘We Say no to Intimidation, ‘Oh! Security Agencies, Why the Intimidation?’, demanded the immediate release of the arrested persons.
Speaking, leader of the protesting women, Mrs. Christiana Tamunobereton-Ari, disclosed that the military personnel invaded the area around 1:00am, yesterday, broke into homes and picked their victims.
Tamunobereton-Ari, who is the vice chairman of the LGA, alleged that the development was political, wondering why there should be arrest when there was peace in the area.
She said: “We are here to let the nation know what is happening in Ogu. We are a peaceful community. Last night some military men came into our community and picked some of our people.
“They broke into their houses and arrested them. They did not even report to the security agencies in our place. As it stands, over seven people have been arrested.
“We are condemning this act of intimidation and we call on the military to stop this unlawful arrested and release our people.”
In her remarks, wife of one of the arrested persons, Mrs. Fyne Nathan, narrated that the military men invade their home and forced her to open the house door on gunpoint.
She said, “The military men came to our house while we were sleeping, around 1:00am. They knocked the door and we refused to open the door, because we don’t know who was knocking.
“We asked whom they were, they said they were military men, and I refused to open the door, because it is late in the night. One of the military men opened the window glass and pointed his gun at me to open the door.
“When they entered, they arrested my husband. They broke his head and forced him to follow them. He asked then what his offence was but they shut him up. I am calling on them to bring back my husband.”