...As Lawyer Says 'Nothing Indicting My Clients'
Some witnesses who testified before the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Rivers State government to investigate the violence and killings and other related acts and matters which allegedly occurred in the February 23rd and March 9, 2019 General Elections in the state have alleged that they saw Hon. Bariledum Gregory Nwidam, one Mr. Eric Nwibani and one Mr. Emmanuel Deeyah with the Divisional Police Officer of Bori inside the Bori Collation Centre in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State on 10th of March, 2019 before the shooting at the collation centre, in this year's general elections.
Giving their testimony before the commission on Thursday, the witnesses said that they saw Hon. Nwidam, Mr. Nwibani and Mr. Deeyah come in a vehicle into the premises of INEC Collation Centre in Bori from where they allegedly went inside the INEC Collation hall.
According to one of the witnesses, the PDP agents were protesting that the will of the people would not be subverted when gunshots were heard in the premises after a SARS officer allegedly gave them a sign to move back.
The witness, Hon. Thomas Bariere, who testified on Thursday before the commission said that he and the late Dr. Ferry Gberegbe saw Mr. Eric Nwibani, Hon. Gregory Bariledum Nwidam and Mr. Emmanuel Deeyah in a vehicle which came into the premises of the INEC Collation Centre in Bori on the 10th of March, 2019, from where they allegedly entered INEC Collation hall.
In his testimony, he said: “Election took place across Khana Local Government (Area) on the 9th (of March) and result collation equally commenced at the end of the election on that same 9th and continued till the 10th (of March) because Khana (Local Government Area) has over two hundred and ninety something units. On the 10th being Sunday morning while we were at the collation centre, the State Commander of F-SARS, ACP Akin Fakorede and his team drove into the INEC office where we were and on his arrival, the Bori DPO asked all of us… to leave the premises.
“What happened was, while we were outside, myself and my late colleague, Dr. Ferry Gberegbe by the fence, he (Dr. Ferry Gberegbe) called my attention and said, 'Boy, see Gregory, see Eric, see Emma, from that vehicle they are entering INEC office'. As all agents of the PDP, we now decided to also enter into the premises and on entering the premises, I and Ferry Gberegbe… rushed to the window of the collation hall and saw the DPO of Bori police division (and) one Dr. Leelee and these APC stakeholders who I've already mentioned”.
The witness said that he worked as a collation agent for the Peoples Democratic Party in Khana Local Government Area in the 2019 general elections.
Another witness, Marvin Lezor Kpea-ue also said in his testimony that he saw Hon. Bariledum Gregory Nwidam, Mr. Eric Nwibani and Mr. Emmanuel Deeyah in a vehicle which came into the INEC Collation Centre in Bori on the 10th of March, 2019, saying that he worked as a Registration Area Technical Support Staff in the 2019 General Elections.
However, a lawyer, Barrister Ibiene Cotton Amachree, who appeared in protest for his clients, Hon. Bariledum Gregory Nwidam and Mr. Eric Nwibani, at the Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the violence and killings and other related acts and matters which allegedly occurred during the February 23rd and March 9, 2019 General Elections in Rivers State, has said that there was nothing indicting his clients in the testimony of witnesses who testified on incidents that happened at the INEC Collation Centre in Bori in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State on 10th of March, 2019, in the 2019 General Elections.
Barrister Amachree said in an interview that although the witnesses said in their testimony that they saw his clients in a vehicle that came into the INEC Collation Centre in Bori on the 10th of March, 2019, there was nothing indicting them in their testimonies, adding that the witnesses were yet to even prove that his clients were in the vehicle as they claimed.
Barrister Amachree recalled that he asked the witnesses during cross-examination whether his clients gave any order for the police to shoot in the INEC Collation Centre in Bori, saying that what the witnesses said was that his clients could not have given any order to the police since they were civilians.
Amachree said: “I looked at the testimony of the witnesses and there was nothing indicting my clients. It is neither here or there. They have not proved to the commission that they were in the Hilux (van). They have to prove that they saw them. They have not pinpointed to one fact that my clients were in any form involved in elections killing, violence and what have you”.
The counsel said that his clients cannot be held responsible for whatever happened on the day of the collation of results in the INEC Collation Centre in Bori, adding that the witnesses' testimony before the commission concerning his clients would also not be seen as defamation of character.
He said: “They have not said anything defaming to the extent that I know because they have not said that my clients asked the police to shoot. They've not said my clients killed Ferry Gberegbe. They did not say that my clients shot those people who claimed to have been shot. They only said they saw them in the hilux van. Doing what? They didn't go further. So, me too, I didn't want to go further. If they had said that they saw them in the hilux van giving directives, I would have known what to say but they said (that) they (only) saw them in the hilux van. It could be for any reasons but I do also do not want to go to those reasons because it is neither here or there”.
He said that had those who testified before the commission said anything other than that they saw his clients in the premises of the INEC Collation Centre in Bori, he would have known what to say at the cross-examination before the commission.
Hon. Bariledum Gregory Nwidam, a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, is a former Council Chairman in Khana Local Government Area.