The three major political parties in Rivers State are recently signed a peace accord to reject violence in the course of the ongoing campaigns. However, there is almost a general agreement that the assertions of the pundits are quite far from the actions of their gladiators and pawns.
By Jimitota Onoyume
The tense political atmosphere in Rivers State has undoubtedly unnerved many peace loving people.
Several lives have been lost and property have been destroyed in the battle of wits between the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the ultimate political prize in the state – the governorship.
Most of the violence have been directed towards the APC a fact that has led some in the ruling party in the state to point fingers at the PDP. However, neither the police nor the courts have been indicted anyone for the spate of violence.
It was as such not surprising when the APC last Wednesday rolled out its big guns including the state chapter chairman, Mr Davies Ikanya, Senator Magnus Abe and Prof. Tam David-West, a close ally of the party’s presidential candidate to articulate their assertions.
Speaking on the nature of the violence that they have been subjected to, Ikanya said:
“Our plight is akin to that of a people in a militarily conquered and occupied territory. PDP thugs and hirelings practically commit murder under the watchful and proactive eyes of the police”, he said.
He further accused the police of being biased whenever attention was drawn to the alleged criminal activities of the opposition.
“Most of these heinous crimes have been aided and abetted by the Police “, he said.
Continuing, he said President Goodluck Jonathan set the stage for attack of members of the APC.
“The federal government of Nigeria under the presidency of Dr Jonathan adopted a deliberate policy of state sponsored violence against Rivers people. The PDP having established it’s machinery for violence now began to unleash mayhem in the form of physical attacks on the APC members, killing and causing grievous bodily harm on our members across the state”, he said.
The party later showed footages of some of those allegedly killed by the PDP in the state ahead of the elections.
Former Minister of Petroleum under the military, Professor David West who also spoke lamented the political related killings, saying it was unfortunate that they could happen under a government with a responsibility to protect lives and properties.
He described Nigeria as a failed state under President Jonathan, noting that his vote was reserved for the APC even if he was not a member of the party.
“We have a failed state. Nigeria state is failed. A government that cannot protect lives has no business being there “, he said.
“I supported Amaechi when many abandoned him. My votes are for the APC, what is good for Nigeria is good for Rivers state, APC”, he said.
Senator Abe who also spoke said Nigerians should give attention to cries of his APC party, stressing that the situation had become so bad.
“Today you can be killed for being a member of APC. The constitution gives us right to belong to political party.”, he said.
According to Abe , some forces allegedly want to force a political leadership on the state, noting that the intention was responsible for the increasing attack of his APC members. “The powers that be want Rivers people to do what they want. Security operatives sent here are not allowed to operate the way they should. We have complained severally”, he said.
Fielding questions from newsmen Senator Abe denied allegations by the PDP that the attack of APC members were sponsored by aggrieved members of the APC.
“So we will arrange to kill our members to create sympathy for ourselves. What sympathy are we looking for. This is why we are calling on the Police to investigate and arrest those behind the killings and attack”, he said.
Abe said his party could not hold its rally in Okrika last week because of alleged threat to lives of members.
It would be recalled that assailants stormed National Field, Okrika, venue of the rally last weekend while the place was being set for the governorship campaign rally of the party that was to come to Okrika local government area. The assailants fired several shots, detonated dynamites in the place to scare those working in the place. Though no life was lost but the ugly development forced the party to cancel the rally.
Abe who decried the incident, wondered why his party would not be allowed to campaign in Okrika local government area. “I don’t know when it became official that APC cannot campaign in Okrika local government area”, he said.
Governorship candidate of the APC, Dr Peterside who also responded to some questions dismissed as wicked and malicious allegations by the PDP that attack of APC members in the state were sponsored within the party.
The PDP has, however, acquitted itself saying: “gunmen are not members of the PDP and they are not also working for the party. Members of the PDP are God fearing and cannot be part of any activity that will spill blood.”
According to the party the violence that has trailed APC is mainly due to the internal crisis arising from the governorship primary.