Human rights group petitions National Human Rights Commission over coordinated brutality on military personnel by agents of Rivers State

Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), a human rights group has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission over alleged coordinated attacks on military personnel by some persons believed to be working for Rivers State Government.

The human rights group specifically frowned at the role of Governor Nyeson Wike in the inhuman treatment, violent attack and attempted murder of military officers performing election duties in the state on March 9, 2019.

In a letter addressed to the Executive Secretary, the group through its Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Sodiq Babalola, Esq. observed that the Fact-Finding Committee set up by INEC to investigate the root causes of the widespread disruption and violence that
characterized the Governorship Election in Rivers State has either refused to do a good job or has chosen to be openly biased.

The letter reads below.

Our Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), a pro-democracy Civil Society Organization based in Nigeria wishes to draw your attention to the ugly incidence of inhuman treatment, violent attack and attempt to murder some military officers sent to maintain peace during the controversial Rivers State Governorship Election conducted on 9th March, 2019 in which the incumbent, Barr. Nyesom Wike sought re-election for a second term.

In an attempt at covering up the roles played by Governor Wike who practically led his security aides from the Rivers State Police Command together with heavily armed thugs to disrupt collation of results at Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been shifting blames by accusing the Nigerian Army of being deployed to do the bidding of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.

The true position of things based on the information at our disposal as an independent stakeholder in the electoral process is that the Nigerian Army was never instrumental to the mayhem caused in Rivers State that led to the indefinite suspension of elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It is also important to state that the Fact-Finding Committee set up by INEC to investigate the root causes of the widespread disruption and violence that characterized the Governorship Election in Rivers State has either refused to do a good job or has chosen to be openly biased.

In its report, the Committee was quick to mislead the public by alleging that “some soldiers” invaded collation centres and intimidated electoral officials.

This allegation was re-echoed by INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye who maintained, albeit without any form of proofs, on Channels TV on Monday, March 18, 2019 that military officers agreed that “they intervened in some places during the election”. We make bold to say that the position taken by INEC against the Nigerian Army is partial, offensive and calculated to damage their name thereby undermining the genuine sacrifices made in ensuring that INEC fulfill its duties under a peaceful atmosphere.

Worthy of note is the fact that INEC failed, neglected and or deliberately omitted to mention the inhuman treatment and attacks meted on officers of the Nigerian Army by security aides and armed thugs acting upon the orders of Governor Wike. As it happened, Captain Adams Salami was shot at close range while Corporal Adeosun Adebayo was thoroughly matcheted to the extent of being left to grapple with life threatening injuries. One would have expected the Rivers State Police Command, whose men attached to Governor Wike were found complicit in the violence against military officers, to take appropriate disciplinary actions against those involved and make such actions public to forestall future occurrences.

Unfortunately, nothing close to either investigation or sanction has been heard from the Rivers State Police Command till date. Being the foregoing as it may, we consider it a matter of absolute urgency for the National Human Rights Commission under your leadership to intervene in this matter. More particularly, we call on you to investigate the role of Governor Wike and the PDP in the entire crisis that led to injury to the persons of Captain Adams Salami and Corporal Adeosun Adebayo at about 10.30pm of Saturday, March 9, 2019 while the duo were performing their legitimate duties of protecting lives and properties of law abiding citizens and ensuring a hitch free collation at the outer perimeter of Obio/Akpor Local Government Headquarters Collation Centre.

For the avoidance of doubt, the two injured military officers are still receiving treatment at Intensive Care Unit of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) and Military Hospital Port Harcourt, respectively, as we write. We submit that military personnel like other Nigerian citizens are entitled to enjoy the fundamental rights enshrined under Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

These rights are inalienable and deserve to be protected by the Commission, no matter whose ox is gored. Let us put it on record that GICN will be seeking redress for Captain Adams Salami and Corporal Adeosun Adebayo in a competent court of law within the next 7 (Seven) working days from the date hereof if we do not receive a positive response from your office regarding the concrete steps taken by the Commission to live up to its mandate of giving voice to the voiceless and justice to the oppressed.

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