By Emma Amaize
WARRI- GUNSHOTS boomed on Friday night at Ugborikoko, Effurun, near Warri in Uvwie local government area of Delta following a clash between suspected political thugs of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Democratic Peoples Party, DPP.
Vanguard learnt that a number of vehicles were destroyed during the fracas but no life was lost. However, the incident has heightened the tension between the two political parties ahead the April 26 governorship election.
An informed source told Vanguard that trouble started when some youths, suspected to be DPP faithful, accosted Governor Uduaghan, who held a meeting with some Ugborikoko chiefs at the home of Chief Joel Akporehe to solicit the votes of the people for the April 26 governorship election.
It was gathered that some DPP youths insisted they were not carried along by the elders and demanded “settlement” from the governor, as the area purportedly a DPP territory.
According to a source, the governor was harassed by the youths and when the information got to PDP youths, they mobilized and stormed the area in search of the DPP “boys” that harassed the governor.
Hell was practically let loose, as both sides exchanged gunfire and vehicles were destroyed.
A DPP chieftain who spoke to Sunday Vanguard on the incident, however, said the governor was challenged by members of the community who suspected that he might have come to influence the chiefs in the area to vote for him in the April 26 election, only for PDP people to come to attack the DPP members for having their audacity.
But a PDP youth leader in Uvwie said, “It is a DPP affair; they should stop calling the PDP. The truth of the matter is that Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan came to visit a DPP leader in Ugborikoko, Chief Joel Akporhehe. Other chiefs were invited in what was obviously a consultation visit”.
“Some of the DPP youths suspected that money was dropped for the elders and insisted that the governor should give them money, which he found amusing. That was the reason why he was being harassed by the youths. The whole thing is about money”, he said.
But a DPP leader dismissed the claim that his party members were the aggressors. In a text message obtained by Sunday Vanguard, he said, “Last night, (April 15) at about 8.30 pm, His Excellency, Dr. Uduaghan was at Ugborikoo in Effurun to visit a local chief, Akporehe, whom he asked to convene a meeting with other chiefs.
Members of the community learnt ofhte meeting and came to ask what the agenda is, and expressed hope it had nothing to do with influencing votes of the governorship elections of April 26th”.
He claimed in the text message the governor offered them money, which they refused, following which a reinforcement was called, resulting in an exchange of gunfire when alleged PDP thugs, destroyed some vehicles.
Meanwhile, Governor Uduaghan has warned the political class to play the game according to the rules as those caught perpetuating violence would face the full weight of the law.
Dr Uduaghan who gave the warning when he paid a condolence visit to the Anoka family of Ogume in Ndokwa land over the death of their son Peter Anoka during the National Assembly elections, promised that the police would get to the root cause of the death.
He condemned the incident in its entirety and promised that security operatives would not spare those found to have committed the heinous crime.
The governor who sympathized with the family regretted the untimely death of the deceased and gave assurance that such incident will never happen again.
Dr Uduaghan promised that the police would be placed on the alert to check the unwholesome attitude of some politicians.
He also enjoined the people of Ogume not to be afraid as nobody was bigger than the law.
The governor said he has the responsibility as the Chief security officer of the State to protect lives and properties and would, therefore, not loose grip of it.
His words “I have come here to pay my condolence to your family. I condemn the incident in its entirety and we must get to the root cause of the incident and bring the culprits to justice”.
Similarly, the governor, was at the palace of the Okpala-uku of Ogbe- Ogume ,Ugbuani Okafor where he charged the elders to prevail on their youths to avoid violent acts particularly during elections as lives lost could not be replaced.
He said that adequate security would be provided during subsequent elections to ensure safety of lives and property