Fears of political violence in Rivers State as the elections approach are increasingly becoming real as unknown persons on Sunday threw objects suspected to be dynamite into the All Progressives Congress (APC) secretariat in Abam-Ama, Okrika.
Sources said the incident took place about 3.14a.m., adding that although no life was lost, the secretariat was extensively damaged.
The Chairman of the Okrika Local Government Area chapter of the APC, Christian Asifamaka, said in a statement issued in Port Harcourt yesterday that his office was the worst hit in the attack.
He blamed the attack on the members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whom he said wanted to drag the APC into violent confrontation.
“The APC in Okrika views this latest attack as a deliberate provocation by our opponents, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to draw the APC into a battle that would destabilise our beloved local government area. This is unfortunate and the APC in Okrika would not allow Okrika to become a hotbed of crises as the PDP would wish,” he said.
He noted that Okrika had always been the worst hit in times of politics adding that the APC had resolved to toe the path of peace in the coming elections.
“Our local government area has always been the worst hit in times of politics. Our young children are the ones they use as cannon fodder. We know this and as a party have resolved to toe only the path of peace in the interest of our land and our children,” he said.
In a veiled reference to the First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, Asifamaka said: “We beg our daughter to remember that the land of Okrika has never spared any Okrika person who brings trouble to the land. We beg her to please call her people in the PDP to order because Okirika is bigger than anyone of us and we should not destroy it.”
Meanwhile, the governorship candidate of the APC in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has condemned the early morning attack on the secretariat of the party by yet-to-be identified persons.
Peterside spoke yesterday shortly after assessing the level of damage caused by the explosion.
He also accused members of the PDP in the area of being responsible for the incident.
He said members and supporters of the PDP in the state have initiated a particular pattern of meting out violence on the people of the state, especially members of the APC.
He, however, expressed the hope that the Police and other security agencies would tackle the excesses of the opposition party before long.
His words: “This development is very sad and it is unfortunate that some persons in the society have decided to choose this path. If you have noticed, there has been a pattern of violence lately. On the 6th day of January, when we had our presidential rally at the Adokiye Amiesimeka Stadium, some of our people who were coming from Abonnema, Degema, Asari-Toru axis were attacked around Sa-Ama junction.
“The persons who were coming from Kaani and Gokana were attacked around Saakpenwa junction. Some other groups who were coming for the same rally were attacked around Elele. All fingers point to the other political party, the PDP.
“We have raised these issues with the Commissioner of Police; we have raised it with the security agencies. Not much has been done after then. Aside from that, you must also have observed a trend, even among themselves. A few days ago, they were in Abonnema to campaign; a faction of PDP fought with another faction of PDP and two persons are now confirmed dead.
“They have also exhibited several other acts of violence at many other instances and that portend serious danger for our democracy. I don’t want to believe that this is what we expect on February 14, because Rivers people are ordinary peace-loving people and we are not violent. I am optimistic that the police will do something about this pattern of violence we have been observing. If they don’t they will force the ordinary people to resort to self-help, and self-help does not do anyone any good.”
He described the people of Okrika as a people that have seen violence and would not want to face another season of violence in their community, and enjoined them to remain calm, with the hope that the security agencies would unearth those behind the attack.
When contacted on the incident, the state Police public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Ahmad Muhammad (DSP), confirmed the incident but said the command had commenced investigation.
In another development, the Rivers State chapter of the PDP has accused the APC of incessant destruction of its campaign materials, particularly that of its governorship candidate, Chief Nyesom Wike.
The Chairman of the PDP in Rivers State, Felix Obuah, according to a statement issued by his media aide, Jerry Needam, made the comment while reacting to the arrest by the police of some members of the APC, who were moving round the state destroying campaign materials of the PDP.
Those arrested, according to the statement, confirmed that they were members of the APC on a mission to destroy PDP campaign materials, particularly that of Wike and also that of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Both the APC and the PDP have been accusing each other in a spate of violence that has taken place in parts of the state.