Thugs attack APC campaigners in Rivers
• Party accuses Rivers CP of compromise
• As police probe attack on Abe’s campaign train
Tension is rising among opposition political parties in Rivers State following repeated attacks on their campaign rallies as the 2023 general election draws closer.
The PUNCH reported that the campaign train of the Social Democratic Party governorship candidate in the state, Magnus Abe, was attacked with sporadic shooting by suspected political thugs in Ahoada West LGA.
Similarly, the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in the state, Tonye Cole’s campaign train was attacked in Opobo town, Opobo/Nkoro LGA on Tuesday, with a member of the party kidnapped and later released.
This was as three members of the APC on a door-to-door campaign in Omuma LGA were inflicted with machete cuts amidst alleged threats that the party would not be allowed to carry out its scheduled campaign rally in the area.
Speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, the leader of the APC in Omuma LGA, Onyekachi Ojiegbe, stated that the LGA was not safe for them following activities of armed political thugs.
Ojiegbe disclosed that the party had written about 17 different petitions to the state Commissioner of Police, Okon Effiong, and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, State Criminal Investment Department, but that they had yet to get any response.
He appealed to the Inspector-General of Police to set up a Special Crack Team and deploy them to the Omuma LGA in Rivers State and the state in general before the elections.
The Omuma APC leader warned that if this appeal was not heeded, there might be a total breakdown of law and order in the area.
He stated, “Omuma is unsafe. Since two years now we have been living in fear. We have written to the Commissioner of Police and DC, State CID. We have written over 17 petitions and they have been unattended to.
“Recently, our governorship candidate was ambushed and attacked in this LGA. The matter was reported to the police and arrests were made and we went to court. As we speak, the matter is dead. Last Saturday, our members went for door-to-door campaign, they were attacked with machete. Three of them are still hospitalised because they sustained serious injuries.”
Continuing, Ojiegbe said, “We are afraid. We don’t know what will happen next. We are having a mega campaign on the 6th of February, 2023. I have received several calls that the campaign will not hold. I am calling on the IGP and the Director, Department of State Services, to come to our aide because the place is not safe.
“We are also appealing to the general public to urge the IGP to set up an independent crack team to be in Omuma. If this is done, these people causing insecurity will be arrested. It looks as if the CP in Rivers State is paying deaf ears to our cries and to what is happening in the state.”
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Police Command said it launched an investigation into the attack on the governorship candidate of the SDP, Abe, on Monday.
The spokesperson for the command, Grace Iringe-Koko, disclosed this in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Iringe-Koko, a Superintendent of Police, however, described the incident as a pre-rally attack.
She stated that immediately the command was alerted of the attack, it deployed the tactical teams and normalcy was restored.
The statement partly read, “There was a pre-rally attack by unknown armed men on the campaign convoy of Senator Magnus Abe, while on his way to attend a rally at Akinima in Ahoada West Local Government Area. Security personnel attached to him were able to rebuff the attack.
“Upon receipt of the information, tactical teams were immediately deployed to the area to reinforce the personnel earlier posted to provide security at the campaign venue. The teams were able to restore peace and normalcy in the area, paving way for a successful rally.”
But a chieftain of the SDP disagreed with the police, saying that the rally was aborted following the shooting by hired thugs allegedly working for the PDP.