From Okrika, headquarters of the Wakirike Local Government Area (WALGA) in Rivers State come a report that unknown gunmen numbering over fifty (50) storms the venue of the governorship campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and began to shot indiscriminately. The shooting abruptly brought the campaign rally to an end.
Information reaching our political desk had it, that during the massacre, no fewer than sixty (60) party supporters and faithful who were scampering for safety sustained serious life threatening injuries. This weekly also gathered that two police officers lost their lives during the mayhem
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State has confirmed the death of a police officer who died as a result of the gun attack in Okrika.
The party also disclosed that many other casualties were also recorded in the attack, stressing that the venue of rally in Okrika was set ablaze with cars destroyed.
Governorship candidate of the APC, Dakuku Peterside made the disclosure when he visited those injured at the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital in Port Harcourt.
“Today is one of my saddest days as a politician. The day had started on a pleasant note when as part of my campaign rally in Okrika, I visited the Okrika Grammar School, my alma mater where I met with the principal and interacted with the students. From there, I proceeded to pay a courtesy call on the Amanyanabo of Ogoloma.
“While I was at the palace of the Amanyanabo, reports reached me and my team that three explosives had been detonated at the venue of the rally, National School field, Okrika. Two of the explosives ripped off parts of the roof of the school building.
“The APC members and leadership at the venue immediately called in the security personnel and the anti bomb squad who combed the area. It is important to note that several other explosives were found by the team but all normalcy was restored.
“From the Bishop’s Court, we headed to the venue and the rally began in earnest with prayers and praise and worship. A few persons gave solidarity speeches and while one of our leaders in Okrika LGA, Mr D.D Alabere was speaking, we started hearing sporadic gunshots from the back of national school and from the Okrika cemetery”.
Peterside also alleged that a member representing Ogu-Bolo in the Rivers state House of Assembly, Evans Bipi was seen at the venue.
“Several eyewitnesses saw a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Evans Bipi who doubles as a Personal Assistant to the wife of the President, Mrs Patience Jonathan accompanied by men in police uniform and several other non uniformed armed men numbering in excess of 50 around the venue. He was seen personally directing the shooting.
“Mrs. Jonathan is a native of Okrika and had just spent the weekend in Okrika where she said she had gone to rest.
“The shooting lasted for about an hour and several persons were injured, including Charles Eruka a Channels Television reporter who was stabbed. Five police officers were shot; one of them is dead and four are lying in critical condition at this hospital.
“One policeman is yet to be accounted for. Some other APC supporters are still missing as at the time of this press statement while equipment at the venue have been set ablaze and several cars, including three police vehicles were destroyed.
“We understand that there are still threats to burn houses of APC supporters in Okrika.
The APC Rivers State salutes the resilience of the people of Okrika who refused to be cowed in the face of such intimidation and attack. We also commend the officers and men of the Rivers State police command for their efforts despite the fact they were outnumbered.
“We remain resolute in our quest to rid Rivers State of brigandage and criminality and reassures our supporters that this change train cannot be stopped. God is on our side.”
Peterside, however, said the party had commenced investigation into the incident, adding that other campaign rallies will be rescheduled.
In similar development the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, has blamed Patience Jonathan, the wife of the Nigerian President, Goodluck, for the attack on members and supporters of the All Progressives Congress in Okrika, Rivers State.
The attack disrupted the party’s campaign rally.
Mr. Amaechi spoke to journalists in Abuja after the enlarged APC leaders meeting at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja on 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 given 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 in Rivers again organized thugs to disrupt APC rally. As usual, the police couldn’t protect us, over 200 police men. 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,” Mr. Amaechi said.
Asked if Rivers State was ready for elections, he said, “You should ask the president, it’s not me you should be asking. If he is in Sambisa, if he is in Borno fighting the 14 local government areas. Like I said, there were crises in the Niger Delta in 2007 and there were elections. So if the 14 local governments of Borno and Adamawa and Yobe, he can’t go ahead with election, then where is he going ahead with election when the whole of Rivers State is being invaded by PDP and PDP thugs and security men are watching and doing nothing.”
He called for a stop to the harassment of APC members and supporters in Okrika, stating that it would be unpleasant if other Local Government Areas of the state take a cue from that situation.
“Clearly, the wife of the president do not want APC to campaign in Okrika, her local government area.” Mr. Amaechi said.
In the same vein, the factional Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Evans Bipi has denied his involvement in the disruption of the APC governorship campaign rally in Okrika rally in Okrika on Tuesday.
Rt. Hon. Bipi in a statement issued in Port Harcourt and made available to newsmen, said that he was not in the state when the ugly incident occurred.
The lawmaker representing Ogu/Bolo was responding to allegation leveled against him, by the gubernatorial flagbearer of the APC, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside that he (Bipi) masterminded the Tuesday’s shoot-out in Okrika.
Rt. Hon. Bipi has threatened to institute a legal suit against the APC gubernatorial flagbearer for what he calls “libel and a defamation of character”.