An investigation by Saharareporters has unmasked the identities of collaborators who played a role in leaked intercepted telephone calls that revealed Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State discussing the rigging of recent legislative elections in the state by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who had collected bribes from him.
Our investigation showed that the first person to come on the telephone call to Governor Wike was Dumnamene Dekor, a former Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. During the rerun election that took place two Saturdays ago, Mr. Dekor ran as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to represent Khana/Gokhana Federal constituency in the House of Representatives. However, he lost to a candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the intercepted telephone call, Governor Wike addresses Mr. Dekor as “Dum Dekor.” The former Deputy Speaker was the one heard in the telephone conversation talking about moving INEC materials to a “Rack Center.” He, however, complained about intimidation by security agencies, a complaint that so infuriated Governor Wike that he threatened to kill the INEC officers he had bribed to facilitate rigging in the election.
Our investigator also found out that the only female voice in the telephone conversation was Betty Apiafi, a PDP member of the House of Representatives representing Abua-Odua/Ahoada East Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. Ms. Apiafi could be heard complaining about the lack of funding to bribe more INEC officers and youths to do Governor Wike’s bidding.
A source in Rivers State disclosed that Ms. Apiafi was handed the task of offering a N5 million bribe to each electoral officer. In the leaked conversation with the governor, she complained that she had run out of money.
Another key player in the telephone call is Owolobi Ofori, aka “Owoh.” SaharaReporters learned that Mr. Ofori serves as Governor Wike’s domestic aide. Several sources in Rivers State identified him as the person the governor entrusts with dirty and sometimes deadly tasks. They added that Mr. Ofori liaises with gangs and armed cultists in the state, often taking funds from the governor to them. He and Ms. Apiafi hail from the same local government of Abua-Odua.
Since SaharaReporters exposed Governor Wike’s audiotaped conversation, the governor and his aides have been running helter-skelter in an attempt to deflect attention from the criminal electoral scandal. He led a protest march to the police headquarters in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State. He later invited a few bloggers and journalists to a meeting and enlisted them to claim that the leaked audio was a product of voice altering software.
On its part, INEC has kept mum on the scandal. SaharaReporters contacted a senior official of the electoral commission in Abuja to ask about a response to the scandal. The official asked not to be named and claimed that INEC would look into the scandal when it meets soon to review the conduct of the election in Rivers State.
Saharareporters learns that the governor’s telephone conversations include several INEC officials, politicians, government officials and youth leaders who engaged in violent election rigging in the state.
A six-minute leaked audio revealed how election officials drafted from Plateau, Anambra and Oyo were bribed in batches as they arrived the state. Governor Wike threatened to kill some of them led by an INEC official he referred to as “Shettima” in the leaked audio.