Okrika Masscre: Ateke Speaks

Ateke-TomThe leader of the defunct Niger Delta Vigilantee Group, High Chief Ateke Tom has indicted politicians of sponsoring the last Tuesday’s mayhem in Okrika that disrupted the governorship campaign rally of the Opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

Ateke, a dreaded ex-militant, refused to mention the politicians who masterminded the fracas that claimed a life of a police officer and wounded no fewer than 60 party faithful.

Ateke, a former governorship aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, exonerated the wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dame Mrs. Patience Jonathan from the crisis that rocked the campaign rally.

Thus, there have been speculations that the first lady, Mrs. Jonathan was a brain behind the Okrika massacre.

His words, “politicians are pointing accusing fingers, but they are all politicians. But what I am sure of is that the president’s wife can never be involved in the attack at Okrika. She is seen as the mother of the country and she hates violence and shedding of blood. She can’t be involved in such an act and to disagree with those saying she is responsble for the attack on APC campaign ground.”

Meanwhile, despite the attack unleashed on the members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their supporters on Tuesday at Okrika, the APC has said it would still campaign in the town.

State chairman Dr Davies Ikanya at the weekend insisted that Okrika is part of Rivers State and the party cannot be barred from going there to campaign.

Ikanya urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to sanction the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for violating the three peace accords the political parties signed – with INEC; the United States Envoy and the Police.

He also sympathised with the victims of the attack, saying one policeman died and four were injured. Of the injured, two have been discharged.

Ikanya said about 20 APC supporters had been discharged from hospital. Two are missing. The party, he said, is collating the figures of those affected.

Ikanya, who accused the lawmaker representing Ogu/Bolo Constituency in the House of Assembly, Evans Bipi, of leading the people who attacked the APC rally, expressed regrets that he (Bipi) is still walking about freely. But Bipi has denied any involvement in the violence.

He advised the Investigative Team set up by Inspector General of the Police Suleiman Abba to look into Bipi’s background.

He did not also spare the First Lady for encouraging the mayhem. “If she cannot bring development to Rivers State, she should not bring violence to us,” Ikanya said.

In a related development, Rivers State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside has assured that the four children of 33-year-old police corporal, Ifeanyi Okorie, who was shot dead in Okrika last Tuesday, will benefit from the government’s scholarships till they complete their education.

The children, aged six, four, three and two and their 30-year-old mother, Gift, a police corporal, would not be allowed to suffer, Peterside said.

The APC candidate spoke at the weekend in Port Harcourt, the state capital, at the home of the Okories, behind the Kala Police Station, off Ikwerre Road, when he and other party chieftains visited the widow.

Peterside, who was represented by his running mate, Okorie Honourable Asita, was accompanied by the state APC Chairman Davies Ibiamu Ikanya; the Director-General of Peterside’s Greater Together Campaign Organisation, Chief Victor Tombari Giadom; Commissioner for Agriculture, Emma Chindah and APC leader in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Chief Tony Okocha, among other eminent personalities.

Ifeanyi was shot dead last Tuesday at the playground of the National School, Okrika, venue of Peterside’s rally.

The peaceful ceremony was disrupted with explosions and gunshots by suspected thugs allegedly working for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Over 50 persons were injured and several property destroyed.

The body of the slain policeman is still at the morgue of the government-owned Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) in Port Harcourt. Arrangements are being made for his burial.

Peterside said: “Your (Gift’s) husband laid down his life for the sake of Nigeria and democracy. We did not expect what happened in Okrika. We went to campaign but some criminals killed your husband in the presence of all of us. Even though you are mourning and crying, we owe him a debt of gratitude for the role he played in Okrika.

“We will stand by you and your children. We will not forget you. We are all parents and we feel the weight of what happened. We feel the pressure that his death will expose you to. We know what you are going through. God will comfort you.

“We are pleading with you to take the responsibility with courage and boldness, thereby moving forward. You need to brace yourself to the challenge. We will support you.

“Your children will go to school and be trained properly. We are very proud of your husband.

“APC leaders and members do not want violence. Serving the people should not be by force but through elections. Let the people freely decide the persons they want to serve them, not through violence, shooting, killing people, bombing, burning vehicles and houses.”

Ikanya described the Okrika attack as unprovoked and condemnable.

The APC chairman said four people were being treated at the hospital in Port Harcourt while 20 injured persons had been discharged.

Mrs Okorie expressed gratitude to APC leaders for the visit and assistance.

The widow described her husband as a fighter, who was always wanted peace to reign in Rivers State and Nigeria.

Mrs Okorie, an indigene of Cross River State, who married her late husband in 2008, said his death was painful.

The policewoman was optimistic that God would bring peace to Rivers State and other parts of Nigeria.

She said: “I knew him as a fighter. He always stood on the good side. He fought for peace to reign.”

Peterside, a member of the House of Representatives, his allies and supporters narrowly escaped death at the Okrika rally.

Okrika, the headquarters of Okrika Local Government Area, is the hometown of the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience, and the leader of the Niger Delta Vigilance Movement, “General” Ateke Tom.


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