The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the killings and violence that attended the rerun/supplementary elections on December 10, 2016, in Rivers state has been charged to spare no efforts in identifying those that were responsible for the killings that took place during the polls.
Inaugurating the commission on Thursday at the Government House, Port Harcourt, Governor Nyesom Wike charged the members to find out the number of those killed and who was responsible for their deaths. He also charged the Judicial Commission of Inquiry to ascertain the names of those who were killed.
The governor stated that it was not within the purview of the commission to investigate how the elections were conducted, stating: “This Judicial Commission of Inquiry is not to investigate how they conducted their elections. You are to investigate the murders that attended the elections.
“Those involved in the killings will face the full weight of the law. This government has the capacity to follow through.”
He called on members of the commission to stand by the truth and be courageous in the discharge of their assignment.
Responding, chairman of the commission, Justice Chinwendu Nwogu, said that the commission would discharge its assignment within the confines of the law.
The other members include, Mrs. Grace Akpughunum-Okwulehie, Prof O.V.C. Okene, Sir Anthony Uzoma Ozurumba, Rev. Canon Hossanna Nnaewi, Alphonso Sibi Esq. (Chief State Counsel, Secretary) and C. B. Ekeh Esq (Principal State Counsel, Legal Counsel).
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry has as its reference to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the violence during December 10, 2016, rerun/supplementary elections in Rivers state; identify the perpetrators of the various acts of violence and killings in the aforesaid election, and identify the victims of the violence including those killed.
Others are to identify if property was damaged and the value of any such property; determine if the violence was localised to specific areas within the state or was state-wide; make appropriate recommendations concerning their findings or any other recommendations as the commission may consider appropriate in the circumstance; and submit its report to the Governor of Rivers State within one (1) month from the date of its sitting.
The government said its action was backed by Section 2 (1) of the Commissions of Inquiry Law of Rivers State (CAP 30) of Rivers State of Nigeria 1999 and all other powers enabling him in that behalf.
The constitution of the commission is coming one week after the Police Headquarters in Abuja set up a panel to investigate an audio recording made public by Sahara Reporters claiming that the voice in it, threatening to kill electoral officers who did not rig the rerun election in favour of the PDP, was Wike’s. It is also to probe the killings, violence, and other election matters that did not conform to the electoral laws of the country.
The Governor had earlier declared that the government would not respond to the probe panel instituted by the Inspector-General of Police to investigate the audio tape allegedly indicting him of threat to lives of electoral officers and electoral malpractice, saying that the probe on the rerun elections by the police has a predetermined goal aimed at indicting PDP members in order to commence “their politically motivated prosecution.
Wike also rejected the police probe because, according to him, it ran against the law of natural justice for the police to investigate a matter in which the Rivers State government has accused them of perpetrating acts of murder and injustice on Rivers people.