The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) has accused Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State, of plans to cause trouble and disrupt the governorship election scheduled for March 9, 2019.
NOPRIN stated that it had information that Okorocha, who is determined to ensure victory for Uche Nwosu, his chosen candidate in the state governorship election and his son-in-law, plans to deploy thugs dressed in army uniform to intimidate voters and electoral officials and violently snatch ballot boxes.
A statement issued by the group on Tuesday, noted that the “fake army officers” would work alongside a security outfit to cause violence during elections in Imo State.
The statement read: “NOPRIN has information that in his determination to ensure that his candidate for Imo State Governor wins by all means during the March 9 governorship election, Governor Okorocha has perfected yet another nefarious plan to again use intimidation and violence.
“We are informed that he plans to use thugs dressed in Army uniform, who will operate in vehicles painted in Army colours. These fake army officers will operate along with members of Governor Okorocha’s so-called ‘Imo State Security Network’ to unleash terror in areas of the state where the Governor does not hope to get votes.
“Their grand diabolical design would be to terrorise and intimidate voters, disrupt elections and manipulate the votes in favour of his candidate.”
The group accused Okorocha of kidnapping Professor Innocent Ibeabuchi and forcing him to announce him as the winner of Imo West senatorial election conducted on February 23, 2019.
NOPRIN added that it would be “unfortunate” if the outgoing governor is allowed to “again carry out his violent act” in the state election.
“Considering that Governor Okorocha succeeded, albeit temporarily, in brazenly deploying violence, using thugs and compromised security agents to intimidate voters and INEC officials during the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections, the probability that he will repeat and even take this act of criminality to a higher scale during the governorship election on March 9 is very high.
“However, it will be unfortunate if, after providing this information to INEC and security authorities, Governor Okorocha still goes ahead to have another free reign deploying violence and thugs to subvert the integrity and credibility of the March 9 governorship and state House of Assembly elections in Imo State.”
The group tasked security agencies to investigate the impersonation of its officers by Okorocha, while urging the electoral commission to take proactive steps to ensure that Okorocha does not repeat on March 9, 2019, “his brazen act of electoral violence and criminality”.