Rivers Rerun Legislative Elections: APC, PDP War Shifts to Media



AFTER the rerun legislative elections in Rivers State December 10, the All Progressives Congress and People Democratic Party have shifted the battleground to the media with allegations and counter allegations of bribery of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission to do their opponents bidding

The war of attrition that marred the rerun election that was held in Rivers State on Saturday is not yet over despite the fact that winners and losers have emerged. The battleground has shifted to media with mindboggling allegations coming from the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The two parties have allegedly paid sympathetic media houses, including online publications to damage their opponent’s reputation. Hence, politicians from both parties are granting damaging interviews and making allegations of who sponsored and bribed official of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to do their bidding.

One of the stories that surfaced in an online media is that of an audio recording of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State allegedly threatening to kill INEC officials if they refused to rig the election in favour of PDP.  Swiftly, the PDP reacted with a rattling story exposing how Chibuike Amaechi, minister of transport and Dakuku Peterside, director general of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, allegedly paid Omoyele Sowore of SaharaReporters $350,000 to blackmail Wike with the published audio recordings.

In the SaharaReporters, an online publication’s published audio recording showed where a supposed electoral officer was heard telling Wike that INEC officials were being intimidated from doing the governor’s bidding.

“Intimidation by who now,” Mr. Wike was heard asking, and he told the official to tell others to be courageous and do what was done in Ikwerre.

“Ikwerre did it, they couldn’t even do anything,” Gov. Wike was heard saying. He was also heard telling an aide to warn an unnamed INEC official: “They should return what they gave them or I will kill them.”

But the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Rivers State has issued an unsigned statement alleging that the SaharaReporters was on Tuesday paid $350,000 (N169 million) to publish the audio tape in an attempt to attempt to distract Nigerians from the gravity of electoral crimes committed by agents of the federal government caught on video across Rivers State during the last Saturday’s National and State House of Assembly rerun elections.  The money for the payment was allegedly sourced from NIMASA and the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. NIMASA allegedly released $220,000 as payment for “international image laundering consultancy” while NDDC paid $130,000 for what they called; “publicity retainership.”

Also, the PDP described the publication as a modulated audio, to hoodwink the public into believing that  Wike was caught on tape arranging bribery of  INEC officials. It said that online publication deployed technologies called natural voices and comparator feature from AV Voice Changer Software Diamond cook up modulated audio fables to hoodwink the unsuspecting public.

Natural Voices is a software that can re-create voices and even bring the voices of long-dead notable persons back to life. It can turn printed text into synthesized speech, making it possible for anyone to use recordings of a person’s voice to utter new things that the person never said.

AV Voice Changer Software is well-known for its voice adjusting ability. It is a speech software, which is good at reproducing the sounds, inflections and intonations of a human voice.

The PDP Rivers alerted the public that already, video of Governor Nyesom Wike was being done, using another technology called Morphing and Synching to match the “voice recording” made public by Sahara Reporters.

Morphing is a special effect in motion pictures and animations that changes (or morphs) one image or shape into another through a seamless transition while syncing is a technical term for matching a speaking or singing person’s lip movements with prerecorded sung or spoken vocals that listeners hear, either through the sound. In other words, a German can be made to appear to speak in Chinese language, using morphing and syncing.

“Governor Wike never paid anyone to undermine the integrity of our electoral processes and no one has ever claimed to have received such funds. As a matter of fact, those who concocted that audio should have known that since it was allegedly related to the elections at Khana Local Government Area, there was no way, such a conversation would have held.

“The reason is simple. Right from the beginning of the elections, we alerted the world about the seizure of all result sheets in Khana LGA of the Rivers South East Senatorial District a   director  at the Niger Delta Development Commission, who took them to his hotel to doctor. Since that was the case, how then could Governor Wike have asked INEC to countersign results they had already compromised and were in favour of Magnus Abe, as they eventually announced? It doesn’t add up.

“Also, are the producers of the audio telling us that the different conversations we heard are from one transaction? How can that be? Does that not mean the audio was edited? Can an edited and modulated audio sustain an argument on authenticity? Your guess is as good as mine.

“Governor Wike is being framed and blackmailed for checkmating electoral fraud in Nigeria, which from all reasonable deductions have the endorsement of the Presidency, given its copious silence,” an aide of Governor Wike said.

Nonetheless, the APC said that the leaked audio recording confirmed the fears it raised before the recently conducted legislative re-run elections in the State.

A statement signed by Bolaji Abdullahi, national publicity secretary, APC, said, “Going by the revelations from the leaked audio recordings, it is obvious that Governor Wike may have engaged in unwholesome conducts that might have compromised the integrity of the electoral process and undermined his office as the Chief Security Officer of a state. The only logical conclusion from this therefore is that the electoral victories of the PDP may have been achieved through underhand dealings and intimidation of officials.…

“The APC condemns any form of violence as it relates to elections or any other matter. In this instance, we urge security agencies to do the needful and ensure that sponsors and perpetrators of violence, no matter how highly placed, are brought to justice.”

—  Dec 26, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT


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