By Taiye Agbaje
The House of Representatives, on Thursday, commenced investigations into the killings of Dr. Ferry Gberegbe, a Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic Lecturer, and others during the 2019 General Elections in Rivers.
This was sequel to a motion under matters of public importance by Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) at a plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara in Abuja.
The House, which condemned the killings, also observed a minute silence in honour of the departed souls.
Moving the motion, Chinda noted that there was palpable presence of heavily armed men of security agencies, including the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and Nigerian Army in Rivers and across the country during the elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said the polls were characterised by clear cases of harassment and intimidation of voters and electoral officers, coupled with sporadic shootings by the security personnel aimed at instilling fear in the people.
The lawmaker said it was disheartening that though government’s duty was to protect lives and property as enshrined in the constitution, the security agents allegedly resorted to killing the innocent, unarmed civilian voters.
”The House notes that during the said elections, there were reports and viral video clips of cases of intimidation, harassment, torture, and shooting to death of innocent, unarmed civilian voters.
”These were done by men of FSARS and the Nigerian Army in several parts of Rivers, including Bori, Abonnema in Akuku Toru, Bonny, Emohua, Ikwerre and Okrika Local Government Areas.
”The House is aware that government owes its citizens the duty of protecting and securing their lives as enshrined in SS. 14(2)(b) and 34(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
”The House is also aware that on or about March 9 at the Khana Local Government Area Collation Centre, Dr Ferry Gberegbe, a lecturer with the Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori in Rivers, was shot in his lower abdomen by men of the FSARS led by ACP Akin Fakorede and he died a few days later from the gunshot wound.
”Also, at Degema, one Mrs. Ibisaki Amachree was shot dead by men of the Nigerian Army,” he said.
Chinda, who said the Nigerian Army had no mandate to participate in elections, described the killings in Rivers as ”one too many in cases of extra-judicial killings across the country.”
He said the killings, if not immediately checked, could lead to anarchy and cause despondency in the minds of teeming civilian Nigerian masses.
He said the killings by these security agencies was not only callous and inhuman, but had reduced the image and reputation of the Nigerian army before the rest of the world and compromised the national security.
When the motion was out on a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Dogara, the lawmakers unanimously adopted it.
Dogara, therefore, mandated the House Committees on Army, Human Rights, Justice as well as Police Affairs to investigate the matter.
He urged them to report back to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.