Killing of solders in Rivers – The Nigerian Army has blamed Governor Nyesom Wike for causing the killing of three soldiers in River State during the 2019 general elections.
Security men attached to the governor were accused of shooting at soldiers stationed at the collation centre in the Obio Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State during the 2019 elections, leaving three of them dead and one injured.
The General Officer Commanding, 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Jamil Sarham, made the allegation when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ ad hoc committee investigating the alleged killing of employees of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Dr Ferry Gberegbe and Mrs Ibisaki Amachree, during the elections.
The House had on April 11, 2019, resolved to carry out the probe following the adoption of a motion by Mr Kingsley Chinda, blaming the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Army for the killing of Gberegbe and Amachree.
At the hearing, Sarham said soldiers deployed for electoral exercise in Rivers particularly those deployed in the collation centre, acted professionally in the face of provocation by those allegedly sponsored by the state.
The GOC said soldiers were also killed during the elections, including one Lieutenant Kurumi who was killed on February 23 and three other soldiers who were killed on March 2.
He said, “The soldiers who were at the outer cordon are supposed to stop anybody coming to either harm the voters or disrupt the polling (exercise). So, when Kurumi tried to enforce that, unknown to him, there were other people with different agenda and they snuffed life out of him.
“At the outer cordon three soldiers lost their lives. May be since you didn’t refer to it, Lieutenant Salami currently is on life support at Cedar Crest. No less person than the Executive Governor of Rivers State led a convoy of more than 40 vehicles to attack a collation centre and shot at Salami, manhandled Corporal Abiodun; these you can verify. That was at the Obio Akpor Local Government Area, at the collation centre there. We have laid this complaint to the police and it is well-documented. The Commissioner of Police is here and, he can testify to it.”
Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Rimande Shawulu, said the lawmakers had visited Rivers where they met with Wike, chairmen of the LGAs and other stakeholders.
He said, “We spent two days taking testimonies. We have the presentation of the two of them; the governor and the (INEC) Commissioner whose house was invaded. What really happened in the case of Dr. Ferry Gberegbe?”
Responding, Sarham said, “Operation Save Conduct is designed to assist the Nigeria Police and INEC to conduct 2019 election.
“So, arrest or whatsoever, anytime it was made, the suspects were usually transferred to the civil police.”
The hearing, however, took a dramatic turn when a member of the committee from Rivers, Boma Goodhead, accused the army of telling lies about military operations during the polls.
Wiping off the tears on her face, she said, “What took place in Rivers State during the elections and other places were done by the Nigerian Army and SARS, and nobody should deny this because we saw them.”
But the GOC said, “Nobody was arrested apart from the people who were directly responsible for the killing of Lieutenant Kurumi. There were actually people in Rivers State who were responsible for the killing of an officer and three soldiers during that election.”