PORT HARCOURT—The governorship campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State was again disrupted, yesterday, as several explosions rocked the Okrika National Field venue of the event.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Police Command has confirmed that a policeman lost his life in the shooting at the venue of APC governorship rally in Okrika, while three others sustained gunshot injuries.
A statement by the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Ahmed Muhammad also confirmed that a journalist with Channels television, Charles Eruka, was stabbed by suspected political thugs, who shot sporadically and detonated explosives at the venue of the rally.
The Police said it was the timely action of its men that saved the situation from further degenerating.
The governorship candidate of the party, Dr Dakuku Peterside, told Vanguard on phone that about 50 members of his party sustained injuries from the attack.
Meanwhile, Governor Rotimi Amaechi has condemned the incident. He also blamed the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan for the attack on members and supporters of APC in Okrika.
Continuing, Peterside said a policeman and a journalist with Channels Television, Mr Charles Eruka, were also attacked by the suspected political thugs, noting that the journalist was allegedly stabbed.
He said: “We arrived my alma mater, Okrika Grammar School first, where I paid a courtesy visit on the principal. That was at 11a.m. From there we proceeded to pay a courtesy call on the traditional ruler of Ogoloma. Before we got to the venue of the rally, we heard that three explosives had been detonated at the school field. But things were normal when we arrived the venue. We started with praise and worship. Solidarity speeches were going on when suddenly shooting started.
“Fifty of our supporters were injured. A policeman was shot. The whereabout of some of our members is still unknown. A journalist with Channels Television, Mr Charles Eruka was stabbed.”
He accused the factional Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr Evans Bipi, of mobilising thugs to carry out the attack, an allegation Bipi denied on phone, saying he was in Bayelsa State commiserating with families of female members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who lost their lives, weekend, in an auto crash on the East-West Road.
This is the second time the governorship campaign rally of the party would be aborted in Okrika, hometown of the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Dame Patience Jonathan.
Meantime, the PDP in the state has dissociated itself from the development, urging the police to unmask those behind it.
PDP, in a statement by its Chairman, Media and Publicity, Mr Emma Okah, appealed for a peaceful Rivers State before and after the elections.
He said: “The PDP, Rivers State, disassociates itself from the reported violence which took place during the APC governorship rally in Okrika and calls for peace in the state as we prepare for the forthcoming general elections.”
The party condemned the act, stressing that the PDP will never contemplate violence.
“The PDP is a peace loving party and believes that everybody should be given equal opportunity in all parts of the country to hold rallies and canvass for votes.
“Violence does not end well and it is for that reason that we have continued to encourage our members to remain peaceful and law-abiding despite the recurring cases of provocation by the APC in Rivers State and many parts of the country,” he said.
A community source, who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, alleged that some speakers at the rally provoked those who detonated explosives and fired gunshots.
“Some of them were saying unpalatable things against the First Lady. How can you come to her home town to say some unpalatable things? We expected that they would just come and do their rally peacefully and go.”