2019 elections: Reps probe killings in Rivers

The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the killings recorded in Rivers State during the 2019 general elections.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion by Mr Kingsley Chinda at plenary on Thursday.

In the motion, which was unanimously adopted, the lawmakers blamed the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Army for the killing of two workers engaged by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Dr Ferry Gberegbe and Mrs Ibisaki Amachree, during the exercise.

They resolved to observe a minute silence in honour of the deceased and “condemn very strongly” the killing of Gberegbe and Amachree and scores of others “by men of FSARS led by Akin Fakorede and the Nigerian Army, respectively.”

The lawmakers also mandated the House committees on Army, Human Rights, Justice, and Police Affairs to investigate the matter and report back within two weeks for further legislative action.

While moving the motion, Chinda faulted the deployment of military for the electoral exercise, alleging harassment, intimidation and killings by the security operatives.

He said, “During the said elections, there was palpable presence of heavily armed men of the security agencies, including the FSARS and the Nigerian Army in many places across the country, including Rivers State.

“There were clear cases of harassment and intimidation of voters and electoral officials, and sporadic shootings by men of the security agencies with the aim of instilling fear in the people.

“There were reports and viral video clips of cases of intimidation, harassment, torture and shooting to death of innocent, unarmed civilian voters by men of FSARS and the Nigerian Army in many parts of Rivers State, including Bori, Abonnema in Akuku Toru, Bonny, Emohua, Ikwerre and Okrika Local Government Areas of the state.

“The Nigerian Army has no mandate to participate in elections – a purely civil exercise under the provisions of Section 217(2)(a) to (d) of the constitution, which states the functions of the Armed Forces.”

Chinda added, “The recent killing of innocent, unarmed civilians in Rivers State was one too many in cases of extrajudicial killings across the country and ought to be investigated.

“The killings, if not immediately checked, could lead to anarchy and in turn negatively affect society, and cause despondency in the minds of teeming civilian Nigerian masses.

“The said killings by men of the FSARS and the Nigerian Army are not only callous and inhuman, but have also adversely affected and reduced the image and reputation of the Nigerian Army before the rest of the world, and indeed compromised our national security.”
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