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The Federal Government on Tuesday in Abuja vowed that the killers of the National Youth Service Corps member, Samuel Okonta, would be fished out and punished. Okonta was killed during the Rivers election rerun last Saturday.
The Minister of Youth Development, Mr. Solomon Dalung, who blamed the violence on politicians, described the crisis as a display of primitive political culture.
Okonta, an orphan, who was shot dead by some unknown gunmen in Ahoada-West Local Government Area, served at Government Community Secondary School, Ukpeliede.
Dalung spoke during a condolence visit by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmmud Yakubu, to the headquarters of the NYSC.
The NYSC also threatened fire over the death of Okonta and other corps members, who sustained various degrees of injury, describing the murder as barbaric.
Dalung said, “Politicians aspire to hold public office because they want to develop Nigeria. In doing this, they are talking of protecting the lives of Nigerians. So, it is very bad that we cannot conduct an ordinary election without conflict. In the bid to protect our interests, innocent people will lose their lives. If they kill all Nigerians, who do we rule over? Are they going to rule animals?
“At this point, I am calling on all major actors in the crisis in Rivers State to respect human life; they should remember that there is one person called God. They should stop ending people’s lives because of their tall ambition. Perpetrators of the violence will not go unpunished.”
Also speaking, the Director-General of the NYSC, Brig. Gen. Johnson Olawumi, vowed that the scheme would not relent until the perpetrators were brought to justice.
He called on the Rivers State Government and community leaders to find the killers.
Olawumi said, “I want to use this avenue to call on the Rivers State Government and community leaders that they should do all things humanly possible to bring those who killed this innocent man to book. We shall work with relevant agencies to ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous act are fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law.”
According to him, the NYSC has set up a commission of inquiry to look into the killing of the corps member, who was on special duty.
He maintained that the commission would be the one to determine whether the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the NYSC and INEC on the participation of corps members in elections would be reviewed or not, insisting that INEC and security agencies had lived up to expectation.
Earlier in his remarks, INEC chairman said, “Our visit today is unfortunately not a happy one. We are here with INEC commissioners on a condolence visit over the death of an NYSC member, Samuel Okonta.
“The NYSC and INEC had been in this happy partnership which has tremendously helped in the management of our elections. I cannot imagine a successful conduct of an election in Nigeria without partnering the NYSC.”
Meanwhile, the British government has expressed its disappointment over the election in Rivers State.
The election which was marred by violence left at least seven people dead while several others were injured.
The Independent National Electoral Commission office in the state was also bombed.
On Tuesday, the British High Commission in Nigeria expressed its displeasure about the election, saying it was ‘disappointed by the reports of violence, in particular against electoral officials in Rivers State on March 19, 2016’.
It said in a statement made available to our correspondent that ‘United Kingdom observers in Rivers State saw irregularities and noted the low turnout of voters at polling units which was in part a consequence of fear of violence’.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has called on INEC to declare the remaining results of the state and National Assembly election rerun held on Saturday.