National Rescue Movement kick against ban on use of schools for rallies in Rivers

by Area Talk

The National Rescue Movement (NRM) in Rivers state has kicked against the newly signed Executive Order 21 by Governor Nyesom Wike prohibiting the use of public school fields for political rallies.

The party, which described the move as “desperate”, said it is wrong for the governor to sign such a law after being a beneficiary of the said facilities in 2015.

In a statement signed by the leadership of the party in the state, including the chairman, Ibiyekaribo Peters, NRM said the new law showed that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has lost its bearing and hold in the state.

The statement reads in part, “National Rescue Movement NRM as a political party in the state with a high stake in the 2023 elections, find this desperate move by Governor Nyesom Wike to surreptitiously use the instrumentality of the powers available to him to intimidate and shut up other political parties in the state to the benefit of his party, is to say the least completely absurd.

“One begins to wonder, what in the world can be destroyed in a school field in cause of carrying out political rallies.

“It is completely unacceptable for Governor Wike to make such pronouncement because Rivers State is owned by all of us and the facilities in question are not part of the personal estate of the governor, but built with the collective resources of citizens and especially that of tax payers in the state.

“Weighing the current actions of the governor, one will begin to doubt the genuineness of the invitation and subsequent meeting of the state Commissioner of Police, AIG Friday Eboka with political parties and candidates a fortnight ago, where the CP requested that outside the INEC guidelines to political parties, political parties in the state must obtain permission or inform the police commissioner two weeks before going to any LGA for campaign to avert clash of two parties.

“Well, suffice to say that the governor’s order 21 and the directive of the state Commissioner of Police, negate the provision of Section 91, (1), and particularly sub (4) of the new Electoral Act 2022, which states that “No registered political party in Nigeria, its aspirants or candidate shall be prevented from holding rallies, processions or meetings at any time for their constitutional political purposes, and the Police shall in a consultative manner, resolve any conflict of time and venue between and amongst parties where such arises”.

“Thus, where such conflicts of laws arise, the electoral act which is in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, takes precedence.

“Secondly, how can governor Wike who is a beneficiary of these facilities during his election in 2015, who had unhindered access to various school fields while campaigning, enact such a draconian order on citizens of the state, to the extent of ordering council chairmen to disrupt political campaigns on failure of parties to comply with such law?

“This is also to confirm the alarm we raised earlier this year that the state government in a secret meeting directed LGA Chairmen to use hoodlums and security agents within their command to disrupt our activities in their respective Local Government Areas.

“It goes to show that this height of desperation exhibited by the governor proves that the PDP in Rivers State has lost its bearing and lacks what it takes to match up with other political parties in a free and fair contest at the polls.

“Little wonder they have also stopped at nothing to use the judiciary to do all they can to edge out other political parties in the race before the actual elections set in.

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“I therefore, on behalf of the National Rescue Movement NRM, call on members of the Interparty Advisory Council – IPAC, civil society groups and all well-meaning citizens and stakeholders in Rivers State to rise up and resist this impunity and intimidation, as this wicked move has no place in a true democracy that we claim to practice.

“We also call on President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government of Nigeria not to allow Governor Wike to use federal instruments like the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and other law enforcement agencies to intimidate or harass citizens of the country.

“We appeal to the Inspector General of Police, Director of the Department of Security and State Services, Director of Civil Defence and other Security agencies not to allow the governor deploy their officers to arrest, intimidate or do his bidding in this regard.

“We also extend this call to the international community including the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and other groups, to draw their attention to this dictatorship and brut force currently unleashed against the citizens of Rivers State.

“Finally, we wish to remind Governor Wike that no successive governments in Rivers State created this level of tension, and intimidated their opponents the way he is doing right now, that was why he could emerge as a governor.

“We therefore advise the governor to use this twilight of his administration to concentrate in building bridges instead of making enemies, and urge him to rescind this decision, as it is capable of truncating the existing peace in the state and create chaotic atmosphere building up to the elections.”

Recall that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has also reacted to the new law, inisiting that they will “neither succumb to intimidation nor accept the presentation of a fait accompli by Executive Order 21.”

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