17th February, 2015
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
One policeman is feared dead and about 50 All Progressive Congress (APC) including Charles Eruka, reporter of the Channels Television sustained various degrees of injuries as multiple explosions and sporadic gunshots was fired from different directions surrounding the National Field, Okrika, Rivers state, rocked the campaign venue of the campaign rally of Dakuku Peterside, the governorship candidate of APC forcing party loyalists and supporters to scamper for their dear lives.
Okrika is the home of Patience Jonathan, wife of President Goodluck Jonathan. On three occasions, Rivers APC governorship campaign team planned a rally in Okrika but it failed to hold due to attacks. But before the campaign team headed for Okrika the Rivers Police Command assured them of security.
Dakuku Peterside said the incident started at about 1:30 pm with three explosions going off one after another. Dakuku who visited Okrika Grammar School, his Alma Mater to interact with the students before visiting the Amanyanabo of Ogoloma, King Elliot Obudibo at his palace condemned the attack.
He said the thugs, allegedly linked to a member of Rivers State House of Assembly, Evans Bipi, (who in July 2013 attempted to impeach Governor Chibuike Amaechi with four other legislators in a House of Assembly with 32 members), stormed the venue of the rally with the explosives damaging part of the school adjoining National Field in Okrika.
Bipi was confronted with the allegation of masterminding the violence at APC rally. He neither confirmed nor denied it. “APC should have known that Okrika is PDP territory and should not have held rally there,” he said.
Dakuku said despite the initial explosions, the campaign team vowed not to be intimidated because Okrika people needed to know the plans of APC for them if it is voted into office.
The policemen and men of Directorate of State Security responded while the APC members, journalists, entertainers and other people at the rally scampered for safety.
Several people were injured in the melee while some lost valuable items including their shoes, wristwatches and mobile handset
Another APC supporter at the rally, Kim Jaja, described the incident as a show of shame.
At the Amanayabo of Ogoloma palace, Peterside told the traditional rulers that it would be unfair for an ethnic group to dominate governance in a multi-ethnic state like Rivers.
He however assured of his administration’s commitment to peace, working with the traditional institution.
Responding, Amanayabo of Ogomoloma, King Obudibo predicted victory for the APC governorship candidate and asked him to develop Okrika, especially Ogoloma if he assumes office.
Rivers state governor, Hon Rotimi Amaechi has blamed the wife of the Nigerian President, Dame Patience Jonathan for the attack on members and supporters of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Okrika, Rivers state, disrupting their campaign in Okrika Local Government area.
“Clearly the wife of the president does not want APC to campaign in her home, Okrika,” Amaechi said.
Amaechi spoke to journalists in Abuja after a meeting of APC leaders at the Shehu Yar’Adua centre in Abuja, Tuesday.
The governor also condemned the act of violence and expressed disappointment over the law enforcement agents’ failure to ensure a hitch free campaign for the APC, despite having earlier assured the party of security and gave approval for the campaign to hold.
“Again, as usual, the wife of the president won’t allow the APC hold rally in that place (Okrika). The wife of the president and the governorship candidate of Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP in Rivers again organized thugs to disrupt APC rally. As usual, the police couldn’t protect us, we are talking about over 200 policemen. I asked the commissioner of police and he said they have over 200 policemen there. Yet, three explosions and then they opened fire on members of APC. The Channels TV reporter I hear, is injured, stabbed, and members of APC injured.
““We had meetings with DSS (Directorate of State Security) and police and they confirmed we could go ahead. There were 200 policemen and there were over 20 to 30 DSS men who came there and they did nothing,” Amaechi said.
Asked if Rivers state is good for elections, he said, “you should ask the President that question. He can postpone national election”.