Some witnesses who testified at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Rivers State government to investigate the violence and killings and other related acts and maters which allegedly occurred during the February 23rd and March 9, 2019 General Elections in Rivers State, have alleged that SARS Commander in Rivers State, Akin Fakorede, gave an order for the shooting on 10th of March,2019 at the INEC Collation Centre in Bori in Khana Local Government Area of the state, which led to the death of a collation agent and the injury of others in the 2019 general elections.
One of the witnesses, Hon. Thomas Bariere, who testified on Thursday said that the shooting at the INEC office in Bori started after a SARS officer had allegedly taken an instruction from his boss, Akin Fakorede.
The witness said: “Election took place across Khana Local Government 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 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. At that point, we started shouting at them that they cannot subvert the will of the people and we started singing that God has given us victory.
“While we were singing, one of the SARS officers was having a conversation with his principal, the commander, Akin Fakorede, who was seated at the front of a vehicle (and) as soon as he (SARS officer) left the vehicle, he (SARS officer) just gave a signal and turned and two other SARS officers who were by the gate walked in. As soon as they walked in, they started giving sign for us to move back. What followed was teargas and the place became smoky and while we were trying to retreat, they started shooting. The sporadic shooting was so severe that we all had to take to our heels (and) while we were running, I saw my brother and friend, Dr. Ferry Gberegbe, going down. As soon as I got there and saw him, I shouted, 'They have shot Ferry oo, They have shot Ferry oo, That SARS has shot Ferry! Other sympathizers who were around rushed and then they carried him and I had to run towards where his vehicle was parked and I said that they should bring his vehicle”.
Another witness, Marvin Lezor Kpea-ue, who also testified also said that SARS Commander, Akin Fakorede, gave an order for the shooting at the INEC Collation Centre in Bori on the day of the collation of results in the local government area.
He told the commission that he worked as a Registration Area Technical Support Staff (RACTEC) in the 2019 General Election and that he was coming out of the RACTEC office when he saw a SARS officer allegedly take an instruction from Akin Fakorede.
The witness said: “I went into the RACTEC Room to take my belongings, that is, a digital camera and my phone (which) I was charging. On coming out, I saw one of the SARS officers approach the passenger seat of the Hilux vehicle and immediately (as) he bent and was whispered to by his boss, the next thing I heard was a sporadic gunshot coming from the Federal SARS officers”.
He said that he saw Dr. Ferry Gberegbe fall on the ground as he was allegedly hit by a bullet, adding that he himself was also shot on his right thigh.
Also allegedly hit by a bullet was another INEC ad-hoc staff, Raymond Ledogo who also testified at the commission.
A video clip of what happened on the day was played for members of the commission by the witnesses in the course of their testimony on Thursday.
Both Raymond Legodo and Marvin Lezor Kpea-ue were treated and discharged from hospital. However, Dr. Ferry Gberegbe reportedly died in hospital.
The commission will submit its report to the governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, within thirty days from its first day of sitting.