Nigerians who are apprehensive of violence in the forthcoming general elections had their fears heightened again on Saturday, as the Police in Rivers State confirmed an attack on the National School Field, Okrika, venue of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship rally in Okrika local Government Area of the state.
The attak is the latest in a series of attacks that have either hit campaign rallies or political office seekers ahead of the February general elections.
The State Police Commissioner, Dan Bature, told newsmen in Port Harcourt that unidentified assailants on Saturday at about 4.30 a.m., attacked the venue with an explosive device suspected to be a dynamite.
“Podium and public address system were damaged. No life was lost.
“The area is now under police control while the bomb disposal unit has commenced investigation,” he said.
According to Bature, the police had advised the APC to reschedule its rally billed for Okrika on Saturday, to another date. He warned political parties to adhere strictly to the Code of Conduct guiding political activities in the state, respect for law and order and eschew violence in all its ramifications.
“The Command is determined to enforce law and order, provide adequate security for all political parties and ensure that the full wrath of law is visited on any person or persons who dare and wish to test our capability,” he said.
The chairman of All Progressives Congress in Okrika local government, Christian Asifamaka, in a statement entitled “Again, the PDP-led Federal Government attacks the people of Okrika” and emailed to PREMIUM TIMES Saturday morning, Asifamaka said his party members were shot at and chased away as they readied the venue of a scheduled rally.
“In the wee hours of the morning of Saturday 24, 2015 at about 3:45am some armed youth started shooting at the venue of the APC governorship rally at National School field, Okrika.
“Those setting up the sound system and the podium were forced to flee for their lives. At about 4am they started shooting explosives into the arena and destroyed the podium, sound equipment and some canopies.
“Okrika is the home of Nigeria’s First Lady Mrs Patience Jonathan. She was present and held the PDP governorship rally at the same venue on Thursday January 22, 2015.
“The boys came in a white hiace bus and allegedly came in from Igbiri, a community that shares borders with Mrs. Jonathan’s Oba Ama community,” the statement read.
The State chapter of the APC, therefore called off its governorship campaign rally, where the governorship candidate of the party, Dakuku Adol Peterside, was expected to have unveiled his Roadmap to Prosperity, a revolutionary economic blue-print for the massive development of Rivers State.
“The decision to call-off the Okrika rally, painful as it was, was taken in the best interest of Okrika people and APC supporters who were nonetheless ready to attend the rally. Neither Dr. Peterside nor APC is willing to jeopardise the lives of Okrika people. Kirikise land deserves honour. So, the raging violence and army of occupation PDP has imposed on her is condemnable. Considering that no ambition was worth the blood of any Okrika native, resident or indeed, an APC member, we decided to call-off today’s campaign in Okrika though our members were willing to storm the area. As regrettable and as painful as it was, we are convinced that the people of Okrika are taking notice of those who do not place any value on their lives. PDP has become blood- hounds, vampires and scarecrows that survive on human blood. We would not be forced to join such an evil cult,” a statement by Ibim Semenitari, Director of Communications, Greater Together Campaign Organisation, which is the campaign team for Peterside’s governorship said.