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Rivers Tribunal: 16 Senators, Reps Petition Buhari

Sixteen senators and members of the House of Representatives from Rivers State on Tuesday petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over alleged interferences by security agencies in the hearing of cases before the state election petition tribunal.

The lawmakers singled out the “State Security Services” and the “Nigerian Army” as security agencies the President should call to order to forestall a possible “injustice” in the prosecution of the cases.

Among the petitioners were Senator George Sekibo and Mrs. Betty Apiafi, both of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The petitioners complained to Buhari that soldiers and the Department of State Services operatives had allegedly aligned with the All Progressives Congress to appear before the tribunal to testify.

They appealed to the President to halt the trend in order not to soil the integrity of his administration and his promise to be fair to all Nigerians.

Part of the petition read, “Your Excellency, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, we bring above actions of your officers to your notice and pray that you caution the Director, SSS, and Chief of Army Staff and indeed all other security agencies to desist from meddling with the electoral process, which presently is before the tribunals.

“Our institutions, particularly security institutions, should not only be incorruptible and apolitical, but should be seen to be incorruptible and apolitical.

“We trust on your timely intervention.”

The lawmakers referred Buhari to an earlier July 23 petition, where they raised a similar complaint over the alleged harassment of Independent National Electoral Commission officials and judicial officials by security operatives.

The petitioners added that it took the intervention of the Senate before the DSS operatives stopped the reported harassment.

However, they stated that the interferences had resumed with the involvement of soldiers, who now testified before the tribunal.

“It took the intervention of the Senate to make the SSS realise that they were acting ‘ultra vires’ their powers under the National Security Agencies Act Cap. N74.

“They admitted and indeed under the enabling statute, they have no business interfering into electoral matters,” the petitioners said.

The petitioners feared that the aim of the security agencies in working with the APC was to arrive at a conclusion that elections were not held in Rivers State during the March 28 and April 11 general polls.