Speech by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, governorship candidate of Accord Rivers State at a press conference held on Friday March 24, 2023 at the party state secretariat rejecting the 2023 governorship and House of Assembly election results in the state, Gentlemen of the press.
1. In the last couple of days, the Rivers State Executive Committee of Accord, members of my campaign council, my running mate and I have painstakingly evaluated the governorship and House of Assembly elections of March 18, 2023.
2. Following the outrage that attended INEC’s conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the electoral body promised that the March 18th governorship and House of Assembly elections would be conducted strictly according to laid down laws and guidelines.
3. Based on INEC’s assurances, Rivers people came out in their numbers on March 18, 2023 to elect a new governor and new members of the state House of Assembly but instead of ballot papers, they were served with various degrees of violence that resulted in deaths, bodily harm and destruction of properties.
4. Our people trooped out to vote in what they thought would be a free, fair and transparent election. They came out to perform their sacred duties to birth a new Rivers State. They were in high spirits. They wanted a change, a redirection of their beloved state. But political thugs, gunmen and unscrupulous state security agents unleashed violence and bloodshed on them.
5. As it were, the violence of 2015 and 2019 has repeated itself. Again, the blood of our innocent compatriots has been used to water the ambition of desperate Rivers State politicians.
6. Days to the governorship and House of Assembly elections, Accord House of Assembly members were kidnapped/harassed. Reports were awash of town criers, warning voters in several communities to stay at home, if they weren’t going to vote for the PDP.
7. The residence of Miss Nenubari Princess Nlenwa, the House of Assembly candidate of Accord in Tai Constituency was surrounded on the eve of the election by 30 men dressed in police uniforms. Their mission was to pick and lock her up and stop her from physically participating in an election in which she was a candidate. She escaped through the backdoor and spent the night in the forest . What a harrowing experience!
8. There were reports that local government chairmen were asked to write their resignation letters in order to coerce them into delivering their LGAs at all cost to the PDP or lose their jobs. Traditional rulers were also made to adopt the governorship candidate of the PDP.
9. Contrary to INEC’s assurances after the Presidential and the National Assembly Elections, the electoral umpire allowed PDP strongmen to hijack the electoral process in most of the 6,866 polling units and thwarted the electronic transmission of results in real-time.
10. All over the state, PDP members in the company of security men allocated votes to PDP candidates by seizing the BVAS machines and uploading fictitious figures on the IREV
11. Ahead of the elections, all the polls indicated that I was a topmost contender. I was invited to all the debates for topmost governorship candidates. On election day, I got feedbacks on how well I was performing but my votes were changed by the PDP in most of the places that I won.
12. For instance in Oyigbo LGA, Ward 10, Unit 5, the Presiding Officer Bitrus Abigail Delyop had signed and sealed the result sheet showing that I won with 67 votes, APC 2 votes and PDP 4 votes. This result was falsified and a new result uploaded on the IREV portal allocating 56 votes to PDP and 26 votes to APC. I was given Zero vote. This occurred in so many polling units across the State.
13. In all ramifications, there was no proper governorship and House of Assembly elections in Rivers State on March18, 2023. The exercise was marred and disrupted by killings, massive violence, heavy voter suppression, voters intimidation and other forms of irregularities and non-compliance with the electoral law and INEC regulations.
14. It was characterized by vote buying, result forgery, result sheet mutilation, serial thumb printing, etc. These happened not just substantially but on an excessive and systemic scale.
15. In the light of the above and lest the dead die in vain, I call on INEC to cancel the entire elections of March 18, 2023 in Rivers State and hold a fresh governorship and House of Assembly elections. Failure to heed this call will leave my party and me no choice but to file a petition at the election tribunal to challenge this travesty.
16. In conclusion, let me specially salute all Rivers State citizens and residents who displayed extraordinary resilience and resolve to have their voices heard through the ballot, even though they were not accorded their rights to vote.
17. I commensurate with the families that lost their loved ones, persons that were injured and those that lost valuable properties. Their sacrifices will not be in vain.
Thank you all for coming and God bless Rivers State.
Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs,
Accord Governorship candidate