The Rivers chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has claimed that a band of thugs dressed in police camouflage uniform disrupted its campaign scheduled for Umunachi community ground in Omuma Local Government Area of the State.
The party claims that thugs who arrived in four-wheel drive vehicles torched canopies and damaged vehicles parked at the campaign site.
In a statement issued by Sogbeye Eli, the APC’s spokesman for its 2023 Campaign Council in Rivers, the party claimed that police officers present during the attack were unable to stop it because some of the perpetrators were fellow officers working at the Rivers State Government House in Port Harcourt.
“Eyewitness accounts report that the few Policemen on ground at the time of the attack as saying that they could not repel same since they were not only outnumbered but recognized some of the attackers as their colleagues who are attached to Government House, Port Harcourt”.
APC claimed that there have been threats to attack and stop the gubernatorial candidate of the APC from campaigning in the area.
According to the party, one Hon. Kelechi Nwogu, Member representing Omuma Constituency at the Rivers State House of Assembly and PDP candidate for the Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency at the February 25 elections, and the Omuma Council Chairman, Mr. Chisom Nwaiwu had warned APC against attempting to hold the campaign rally in the area.
APC said it informed the police of the threats.
“Consequent upon these threats, the leader of the APC in Omuma Local Government Area, Mr. Onyekachi Ojiegbe (alias Atiku) petitioned the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command to notify him of the impending attack. The Commissioner, it was gathered, minute the petition to the Officer-in-Charge,O/C Operations of the State Command who in turn detailed the Police Area Commanders at Oyigbo and Bori to swing into necessary preemptive action.
But the party noted that though three detachments of the Police were deployed to Omuma by the Oyigbo Area Commander, the dare-devil thugs invaded the rally venue at dawn just after majority of the Police contingent left to refresh themselves ahead of the arrival of the State Campaign train.
The party further said that the said Rally venue was duly approved for the rally in the face of the deprivation imposed on opposition political parties in the use of public schools’ spaces for campaigns by the Executive Orders of the Nyesom Wike Administration.
The party said it has broken no law by campaigning across the state, saying that it has always complied with the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act 2022.
It also asserted that it has never forced its way into any public school or government facility for the purposes of campaign to warrant the attacks.
The party called for the arrest of those fingered in the attack to bring the ‘primitive ambush on democracy to a definitive end’ in Rivers.
“In particular, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Okon Effiong Okon, should immediately order that Kelechi Nwogu and Chisom Nwaiwu be arrested to commence investigation of their roles in this attack this morning.
“Anything short of their arrest and prosecution is unacceptable to us and we hope that the Police Commissioner would not attend to this minimum demand with the same lethargy that previous attacks on our Rallies in Port Harcourt, Oyigbo and Opobo/Nkoro LGAs by these notorious elements were treated with that has given rise to the audacity and impunity for criminals to continue trampling on the fundamental rights of APC members to campaign in their own State.”
APC added that with the 2023 elections just a matter of weeks away, the President and Commander-in-Chief should prevail on the Inspector-General of Police and Director-General of the Department of Security Services to avert anarchy in Rivers State.
However, after the initial disruption, APC supporters mustered courage and insisted on going on with the campaign rally at the same venue with minimal comfort.
The Rivers state Police Command has not reacted to the incident at the time of filing this report.