By Ignatius Chukwu
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has listed various attacks suffered by it at campaign rallies, homes of it’s chieftains, and against it’s facilities.
The party also says it has good information that it’s chieftains would be abducted, arrested or put out of circulation close to elections. They would be taken to magistrate courts without jurisdiction and thus put into jail without trial.
The party also said Gov Nyesom Wike was joining through the backdoor the same APC he had ceaselessly castigated.
Speaking at a morning press briefing Thursday February 9, 2023, the publicity secretary, Darlington Nwauju, who recalled the death of over 500 party members in 2014/15, said the party condemns what he called the serial notorious and unprovoked attacks that have trailed the campaigns of most of the parties in Rivers State.
The APC invited Nigerians to take note of the following attacks on their party aimed at repressing them, breaking their resolve and intimidating their support base.
Nwauju listed the attacks thus: destruction of billboards at Umuokpurukpu in Omuma LGA on 23rd January 2023; attack on our Ward 7 Onne office in Eleme LGA on 11th January 2023; on the 19th January 2023 at Rumuwoji playground, the audacious attack on our campaign rally took place; the political intolerance continued in Asarama community, Andoni LGA as our campaign materials were destroyed.
The party went further to list others thus: same fate befell our billboards at Chokocho and Egwi in Etche LGA; at Omerelu in Ikwerre LGA (our House of Reps candidate, Ezemonye Ezekiel-Amadi, had his country home torched by suspected PDP arsonists on 28th January 2023); on the 28th January 2023 at Eberi in Omuma LGA (two of our supporters were matcheted) for no other offence than being members of the APC.
He also mentioned what he called denial of access to campaign venue at Oyigbo LGA on the orders of CP Effiong Okon on the 30th January 2023. Others include destruction of campaign stage/musical equipment at campaign venue in Opobo/Nkoro LGA on January 31st 2023; attack on Omuma APC rally at Umunachi with destruction of stage & canopies on February 6th 2023.
He stayed: “So far, there is no single report of attack against any PDP rally, thus showing who the attackers were.
“May we remind Nigerians that the APC in Rivers State was built on the blood of over 500 Rivers people who were butchered in different parts of the state simply for belonging to and believing in the APC under the leadership of Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
” Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA recorded the worst casualties as the entire area had a government within government under the firm control of cultists, extorting royalties from banks and other corporate institutions.
“We cannot forget the fact that in 2014/2015, Rivers State was a theatre of war as political violence was the order of the day and it was an abomination to be associated with the All Progress Congress in any part of the 23 LGAs of Rivers State as the risk of being hounded, arrested or killed with security agents like CP Mbu Joseph Mbu giving cover to cultists to freely operate. We will not bore you with the history that most of you in the media already know.
“Infact, to prove the amount of impunity that reigned supreme, leaders of the APC who visited then Gov Amaechi in Government House, including now President Buhari, Chief Bisi Akande, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Chief John Odigie Oyegun and others, were pelted with stones on November 5, 2013 from the Port Harcourt International Airport right into the city center by thugs mobilized by the PDP. Do we need to remind Nigerians that on the morning of Tuesday 6th January 2015, the day of the Presidential campaigns of then APC candidate and now President Muhammadu Buhari in Rivers State in 2015, APC supporters traveling from Khana and Degema LGAs were ambushed and shot at with several of them sustaining serious injuries.”
He said President Buhari did visit the victims at the Kelsey Harrison Hospital in Port Harcourt on Wednesday 7th January 2015 and promised them justice. “APC in Rivers State and it’s members flew the flag of the party at the risk of their own lives!”
He regretted that the victims never got the justice promised them by their party and president to this day. Nwauju said the party in the state only hopes that a day would come when an Attorney-General would emerge who would open the books and give justice to the victims.
He said: “Today, we are surprised that the Governor of Rivers State who once referred to the APC as “cancer” and has mocked our party, that anyone who would try to continue with the legacies of the APC is an enemy of the people of Nigeria, surprisingly, we have reliably gathered of the instructions to Council Chairmen across the 23 LGAs to canvass support surreptitiously for the presidential candidate of the APC, thereby making moves to join the APC through the backdoor rather than staying put with his “malaria” party and solving their internal squabbles.
“We also welcome the approval granted the Presidential Campaign Office for the use of the Liberation Stadium for the 15th February 2023 Presidential Rally of the APC and its Presidential candidate, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu in Rivers State and we want to clarify that this approval was sought by the Campaign Council through the Honourable, James Faleke (Secretary of the Campaign), who has also reverted to the State Coordinator of Tinubu Campaign, Tonye Cole, and not Tony Okocha as the latter is struggling so hard to erroneously portray. Tony is not and cannot be Coordinator of an APC event as he is merely a member of an NGO (non-governmental organisation) under the presidential campaign council (PCC) promoting the candidature of our Presidential candidate. He has no right to address the media either on behalf of the Presidential Rally Committee/LOC nor the APC in Rivers State. What we know is that Tony Okocha is working hard to justify his pay from Governor Wike.
“Tony’s NGO has nothing to do with the preparations by Rivers State APC to host it’s Presidential candidate on the 15th of February 2023. We are surprised that the PDP in the state is so interested in using the likes of Tony as decoy to join the APC.
“Rivers people should now query and worry why with the latest political gymnastics, restitutions should not be made to all the families who lost loved ones and properties in 2013/2014/2015 just for joining the APC. Should the PDP in Rivers State not apologize to Rivers people for feeding them with falsehood, hate and violence when our leader and former Governor took the risk to set up this party in Rivers State?.”
Recall that few days ago, the public was served with a bizarre allegation against the APC in Rivers State wherein the Governor of Rivers State alleged that there were intelligence reports that APC in Rivers State was planning to share same campaign venue with the PCC of Atiku/Okowa. This to say the least is preposterous and illogical as the APC and PDP are two parallel political ideologies competing for the votes and support of Rivers people and Nigerians. It would infact be unthinkable to have such a never-heard-of and “miraculous” outing play out in any state of the federation not the least Rivers State. And to drive home our point that the claim of the Governor was bizarre, the same Governor has during a political rally of his party, announced the re-approval of the same stadium for the same Atiku/Okowa PCC and we are tempted to ask – why the summarsault? Has there been a review of the intelligence reports? Who if we may ask brought such a misleading intelligence report? Is it not statesmanly for the Governor to offer an apology to the APC in Rivers State for claiming our party is a purveyor of violence and destruction? Let Nigerians be the judge.
We cannot conclude this briefing without alerting the nation of moves to attack notable opposition figures in Rivers State, by stage-managing their abduction or if you like, organising arrests and charging them to Magistrate Courts that have no competent jurisdiction to entertain the charges that shall be maliciously slammed against them.
Our party has endorsed two different Peace Accords and we are committed to keeping to the dictates of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) and the letters of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The onus of ensuring peace building in our dear state rests on the Government of the day. All strategies deployed to intimidate the APC shall fall like a pack of cards even as all the anti-democratic instructions passed on to the leaders of the 23 local government councils to show “capacity” by frustrating the opposition, will only excerbate tension and toxify the electioneering process.
We appeal to IGP Usman Alkali Baba to rise up to the occasion and ensure that the ceaseless attacks on members of the opposition in Rivers State comes to a halt, and those sponsoring cult gangs and political thugs inorder to have an edge over their opponents must be brought to book and adequately punished. A situation where the Police Command in Rivers State rushes to the public domain to dismiss every and any attacks on the opposition without investigation(s) smacks of unprofessionalism hence our fears that the sitting CP Effiong Okon has taken sides with the PDP.
Is it not shocking that uptil today, CP Effiong Okon has neither visited any of the scene where these attacks took place against our party whether in Omuma or PHALGA?
Our demand is neutrality and proactiveness on the part of security agencies. Nothing less. May God rescue & bless Rivers State!!!