The Director of Atiku Presidential Campaign, Rivers State Chapter, Abiye Sekibo, has alleged that the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has unleashed terror on other members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, supporting the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Sekibo stated this via a statement he signed on behalf of the State Campaign Management Committee of the state on Thursday evening.
Recall the State has been under Order 22 which forbids candidates from campaigning in any structure or facility without clearance from the local government.
Critics and opponents of the governor, who signed the bill into law, have said the governor’s target is Atiku due to their political differences.
This is as a result of the fallout of the presidential primary election in May and the selection of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as the PDP presidential running mate ahead of Wike, who came second at the presidential primary election.
Although the party’s selection committee had listed Wike as number one for consideration for the Vice Presidential candidate of the party, Atiku settled for Okowa who came second during the selection process.
Following the development and the accusation that the National Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, had compromised the process, the Wike camp demanded for Ayu’s resignation citing lack of equity in the composition of the party.
Both Atiku and Ayu have refused.
Ayu’s refusal to resign prompted the Wike camp which has metamorphosed into the Integrity Group, to pull out of the PDP presidential campaign.
The group, which involves governors of Enugu, Oyo, Benue and Abia among other former governors, ministers and lawmakers, who served as Wike’s agents during the primary election process, has launched verbal assaults and state-sponsored attacks on Atiku, Ayu and all those that have identified with them.
But it’s the repeated attacks in Rivers State on members of the Atiku Campaign that has prompted Sekibo to raise the alarm on Thursday.
Tracing events leading to recents attacks, Sekibo, who was a minister of transportation during the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku, said the state campaign management council had drawn general attention to the attack on the residence of the Chairman, Rivers State PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Lee Maeba before the latest attacks.
He said that attention which was undertaken on December 9th, 2022, concerned the perception that the attack on Lee was “carried out by political thugs believed to be working under the directives of the Obio/ Akpor Local Government Council Chairman.”
He expressed dismay “that the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, has dismissed the attack as having been masterminded by the Distinguished Senator on himself.”
Sekibo further said, “On December 14th, 2022 at about 9:00PM; the members of the Rivers State PDP Presidential Council received reports of armed attack on Rhino Owhorkire, a youth leader of the Atiku Presidential Campaign team in Rivers State and his cousin, in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
“They were both shot while returning from a PDP Presidential Campaign event. They both sustained life threatening injuries, and are currently on admission at an Intensive Care Unit,” he explained.
According to him, “Rhino suffered similar attacks a few weeks back when he was physically assaulted and asked to renounce his support for the PDP Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar; on the orders of the Ikwerre Local Government Council Chairman.”
He lamented that, “These attacks, threats to life, and destruction of properties of persons supporting Atiku Abubakar in Rivers State, by thugs sponsored by certain individuals; seeking to instill fear in law abiding citizens of Rivers State is increasingly becoming unbearable, and requires the urgent and unrelenting professional intervention of the Police and all other security agencies.”
He stressed that, “We believe that the overwhelming video evidence of this armed attack against Rhino and his cousin, the verdict of the Commissioner of Police would not be that these persons masterminded an assassination attempt on themselves, just as he erroneously claimed in the case of the Distinguished Senator Lee Maeba.”
He further lamented that the state is under siege as Atiku’s supporters are under increasing attacks.
“In Rivers State today, it is becoming evident that the offices of Local Government Council Chairman has been weaponized by the Governor and used to recruit thugs and unleash mayhem on the supporters of Atiku Abubakar, as witnessed in Okrika, Obio/Akpor, and Ikwerre Local Government Areas of the State.”
The former Transport Minister called on “all lovers of peace in Rivers State, and Nigeria at large” and is “calling on the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General of the Department of State Services and all other security agencies of government to move in and prevent the sponsors of these thugs form turning Rivers Stare into a battlefield; before, during and after the 2023 General Elections.
“The lives of Rivers People, and other citizens, including foreign residents in the State are precious, and nothing should be left undone to preserve these lives from unwanted attacks.”
He pledged that, “We continue to stand for a peaceful election in all parts of Rivers State and Nigeria at large. Let’s give peace a chance in Rivers State. No one has the monopoly of violence, and we must not be forced to resort to self-help.
“This is an open plea to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Sekibo said.