Minister of Transportation and former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, has rescinded an earlier decision to visit Governor Nyesom Wike’s ward during tomorrow’s rerun election into national and state assemblies.
Two days ago, Amaechi had said he would visit the governor’s ward following Wike’s order to his supporters to beat up the minister, should he try to monitor the rerun in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
Amaechi, who spoke yesterday in a radio programme monitored in Port Harcourt, said he changed his mind following a warning by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) Sotonye Wakama.
The DIG had warned that no government official, was permitted to move about with more than an unarmed orderly.
Amaechi explained that he would not want to disobey the order by the police though he initially tried to prove to the anchormen interviewing him that, the present Governor of Kaduna State Nasir el-Rufai sued the police and Federal Government over free movement on election day and argued that the matter is still in court.
Also, some callers on the radio programme appealed to the minister to let sleeping dogs lie by not visiting the governor’s ward, to avoid eruption of crisis in the state.
Similarly, Amaechi, in a radio broadcast to Rivers people yesterday, condemned the declaration of Thursday and Friday, by the governor, as public holidays. Governor Wike had declared two days holiday, to enable those in the public and private sector to participate in the election. Amaechi described the public holidays as illegal.
He appealed to the people not to submit to any form of intimidation and threat on Saturday.
In his reaction, the Commissioner for Information, Austin Tam-George, described Amaechi’s statement as irresponsible.
On the two days public holiday, the commissioner said, “government thought it would be wise to allow members of the public to have the ease to travel or move about, to enable them participate in the Saturday re-run election.”
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state.
Materials for the rerun, which arrived Port Harcourt in the early hours of yesterday, have been sorted according to units, wards and local government areas, where they would be distributed to later on.
At press time, non-sensitive materials had been fully arranged while sensitive materials were still packed at the back of INEC’s office. Armed mobile policemen have taken over major streets in Port Harcourt, including flashpoints.
In a related development,, Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA) has criticised the Federal Government for what it described as militarisation of Rivers State and other parts of the Niger Delta to intimidate voters.
Ahead of the rerun election, former commissioner of Health, Dr. Sampson Tamunoiyoriari Parker has debunked rumours that Amaechi was a psychiatric patient under his care.
Reacting to what he said has now been used as campaign tool against the minister, Parker said he was not aware of any episode of mental ill-health over the 15 years of working closely with Amaechi as a friend and later as his commissioner for Health.