Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has condemned the stage-managed unlawful arrests of PDP members ahead of the Governorship and State Assembly elections of March 9, 2019.
Governor Wike urged security agencies to be professional and unbiased in the discharge of their duties for the peaceful conduct of credible polls in the state.
He spoke during a State Broadcast on Thursday ahead of the Governorship and State Assembly elections in Rivers State.
He said: "We therefore condemn the stage-managed, unjustified and continuing arrests and unlawful detention of leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) across the State by security operatives since yesterday.
"We want to warn that such biased, politically-induced arrests and malicious jailing of PDP leaders only serve to heat up the already volatile political atmosphere with heightened tensions and dissensions, which could cause serious problems to the peaceful conduct of the Governorship and House of Assembly elections in the State.
"This is more so when the State security agencies are seen to be protecting and supporting leaders of the rival APC who have not relented to undermine public peace, safety security with their criminally pernicious, incendiary and inciting utterances".
He added: "This being so, all that we require and demand from the security operatives is to create the enabling peaceful electoral environment for our electorates to come out and orderly cast and have their votes counted in the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
"Accordingly, we once again request the security agencies to be responsive and responsible in the performance of their legal duties and ensure that no person, political party or thug is allowed to undermine the order, peace and tranquility of the State in their desperation to foist their will on the State during the Governorship and House of Assembly election".
The Governor advised Rivers people to note that eternal vigilance is the price for freedom and that tyranny triumphs when the people allow fear to overwhelm them.
He said: "In a democracy our vote is our power and no situation or circumstance should be potent enough to scare or prevent us from coming out on the 9th of March 2019 to vote for the candidates and party of our choice.
"When they tried in 2016 we successfully resisted and overcame them with our courage. We can do it again in 2019 as nothing can stop our God’s ordained match to resounding victories in next Saturday’s Governorship and House of Assembly elections".
He said general elections are about the electorate exercising their constitutional rights to elect their leaders through the ballot. He said the exercise should not be a do or die affair.
He said: "For us in Rivers State, the March 9th 2019 general elections is about electing those who will preside over the affairs of our State as the Governor of the State and members of the State House of Assembly for the next four years from among the political parties and candidates already cleared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest.
"As important as these elections are because they are about our progress and our future as a State and as a people; still they do not call for violence, disruptions, snatching of election materials, harassment of electoral officers or rigging of any sort by any person, authority or agency".
He said though it is unfortunate that the major opposition party in the State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not on the ballot for this particular round of elections, it does not justify any move to encourage violence.
He said: "As democrats, we sincerely sympathize with the APC and its supporters for this political misadventure. Yet, this circumstance neither warrants nor justifies the continuing threat by that party to violate the peace of the State and scuttle next Saturday’s Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
"That is why we commend the move by a faction of the APC led by the Minister of Transportation to stake its political fortunes in next Saturday’s elections with the candidates of the African Action Congress as the right thing to do instead of threatening mayhem on the State."
The Governor added: " As I repeatedly said, we all have no other State as beautiful and accommodating to call and cherish, as our home than Rivers State. It therefore remains our collective responsibility to promote and preserve its peace, advance its progress and secure the present and future wellbeing of our people.
"No one is exempted in this enterprise of state building. Accordingly, we recognize and appreciate the APC and all the other political parties as major stakeholders that are committed in principle to the unity, peace and progress of our State as envisaged and enjoined by our founding fathers.
"At this crucial time of our political history therefore, the minimum service the APC and other political parties can render to move our State forward is to encourage all their supporters of voting age to come out to peacefully and orderly exercise their franchise in next Saturday’s Governorship and Houses of Assembly elections devoid of any violence, acrimony or hostility".
The Governor reassured of the commitment of his administration to meet halfway with all interest groups to reconcile and resolve all contending issues, including ongoing court cases and other grievances so as to foster unity, all-inclusiveness and accommodation in the governance of Rivers State.
He appealed to all stakeholders including the APC to join forces with his administration as patriots to ensure that nothing disturbs the peaceful conduct of this Saturday’s Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in Rivers State.