By George Onah
Port Harcourtâ€” Following three failed attempts about eight weeks ago on the life of the Rivers State Independent National Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Austin Okojie, the security guard at his residence in Port Harcourt,Â was, yesterday, trailed and murdered by suspected assassins.
An eye witness, who pleaded anonymity, said the guard was hit repeatedly on the neck and back with an iron rod, after which the assailants descended on him with machetes, stabbing him several times.
Vanguard gathered that the man, identified as Lawrence Chinwo,Â may have borne the brunt of the planned assassination of Okojie,Â after he had successfully kept guard at the Commissionerâ€™s residence to thwart the machinations of some gunmen, who called at the state INEC bossâ€™s place recently.
Chinwo, an INEC staff, was said to have left the Commissionerâ€™s house, to a house in the neighbourhood, and was attacked on his way, along Old GRA in the city.
He could not be attacked at Okojieâ€™s house because of the presence of mobile policemen on guard. The commissioner himself has been on round-the-clock protection since the many unsuccessful efforts to kill him by yet to be identified suspected assassins.
The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Dr.Â Rita Inoma-Abbey,Â could not be reached, as she did not answer her phone, which rang several times.
In the first attempt to assassinate or abduct Okojie in March, five gunmen stormed his residence, rounding up the policemen on guard, taking away their riffles, but could not find the man who stopped over at a house close to his residence on his way back from office.
There were two other fruitless efforts by the gunmen at his office and residence to kill him.
It was learnt that the chase to cut down Okojie started when the commission held an employment exercise at the Port
Harcourt office of INEC, in alleged obedience to a directive by the head office in Abuja.â€
Certain people were said to have attempted to â€œjump the gun and to cut corners at the employment groundâ€, but were rebuffed by the commissionâ€™s staff , who insisted on â€œdue processâ€, eliciting the grievances of the hoodlums.