Political violence and blame game in Rivers
There is no doubt that Rivers state has been marked as one of the flash points in the forthcoming general elections. The state has so far recorded the highest number of politically motivated killings since the start of campaigns leading to the elections.
According to the All Progressives Congress, APC’s report recently, as much as fifty eight members of the party have been killed by unknown gunmen while much more have been targeted either for arrest and prosecution or an outright assassination.
What is more interesting in the crisis is the fact that the two major parties in the state, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and the APC keep blaming each other for fomenting the crisis in the state with names of prominent politicians being dropped as the masterminds.
A particular case is the bloody attack on the APC governorship rally in Okrika, home town of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, where the party’s governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside and his supporters were scared out of the city by gunshot and dynamite explosions.
APC blamed the President’s wife and the PDP governorship candidate as well as self-acclaimed speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Evans Bipi, as the ring leaders of the attack. A police officer was shot dead in the process while many more including Journalists who covered the event suffered various degrees of injuries.
Governor Rotimi Amaechi has described the state police command and Patience Jonathan as the biggest threat to free, fair, and peaceful elections in the state. Amaechi said that the police had abandoned its law enforcement duties and taken sides with the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, by arresting the members of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The governor alleged that 30 members of the APC had so far been killed, with four arrested for defecting from the PDP to APC, while 307 members had been harassed and threatened by the police.
He said that despite repeated appeals to the Inspector General of police, IGP Suleiman Abba, and several meetings with the police commissioner, Dan Bature, thugs carrying out the orders of the PDP continue to kill, injure and destroy the properties of APC members.
‘Regrettably, the state’s greatest offence is being the home state of the wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dame Patience Jonathan. Mrs. Jonathan has made it her ambition to murder all the members of APC.”
Amaechi said that the recent withdrawal of policemen from top members of the APC, including its governorship candidate was a serious source of worry and has fuelled concern over the security of Dakuku Peterside, the party’s governorship candidate.
“This fear if fuelled by the unanswered question as to whether this withdrawal of security personnel is linked to the aforesaid plans to assassinate Dr. Dakuku Peterside and possibly has the backing of top echelons of security agencies in the state and country.
“Those hired to do this assassination attempt are still roaming free in Port Harcourt, housed and catered for by Barr. Nyesom Wike, the PDP governorship candidate in Iwaikwowo Hotel off Oroekpo Road, owned by one Promise Onuoha, Nyesom Wike’s cousin.
“Unfortunately, the Nigerian police Force in Rivers has led to a great escalation of these acts of killings, unlawful arrests and detention on frivolus and unsubstantiated reasons, as well as constant and un-abating harassment using the very same Police meant to protect all sides.”
The governor would further alleged that, DCP John Amadi, DC, Operation, and Promise Nwosu, head of SARS were all in the plan for this act.
“The most ridiculous is that the police, whom we are supposed to run to for protection have commenced the withdrawal of police security for top APC members, including that of the governorship candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.”
Amaechi, who also urged the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba to demonstrate to Nigerians that he remains an officer and gentleman, by doing the needful, said that the people of the state have never had it so bad in terms of security.
“The IG cannot claim ignorance of the huge security gap that the administration of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi filled in the state over the years.
“We are thus left to conclude that Mr. Suleman is obviously sympathetic to the PDP and would rather protect the interest of the party, rather than that of the generality of Nigerians.”
The next day after the governor’s allegations, the Greater Together Campaign Organisation of Dakuku raised the alarm over plots by the PDP in Rivers State to kill the Chairman of Etche local government, Mr. Charles Anyanwu, an APC, chieftain, saying the prelude to the satanic is his current illegal arrest, detention and frivolous charges slammed on him.
The organisation, which described Mr. Anyanwu as one of its strongest supporters, also expressed worry that PDP had resorted to arrests and assassinations to build fear in the minds of APC supporters and the larger voter-population as to hijack up-coming election processes.
“Pitiably and sad enough, PDP has chosen a member of the Anyanwu extended family to promote this evil project having already bought over the black sheep in the family with huge raw cash and contracts. We condemn this plot and warn PDP and its paid recruits to desist as Nemesis and Divine justice would soon catch up with them”.
Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, Director of Communications, the campaign organisation wondered why PDP, rather than canvass for votes through genuine campaigns only decided to decimate the ranks of APC. While calling on security agencies to protect Mr. Anyanwu and ensure no harm befalls him, GTCO lamented that the Etche chairman’s case is just one in several other plots originating from the PDP.
In expressing worry over the development, the Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside campaign outfit challenged PDP to a popularity test in Etche and other local government areas in Rivers state, devoid of police and armed militias’ interference and intimidation. It also demanded that Chief Emma Anyanwu, father to the Etche chairman, plays the role of a true father.
“We are worried that rather than offer protection, love and care to his son, Chief Emma Anyanwu has chosen an ignoble path, standing to be counted among failed fathers. Our consternation increases when we wonder why this father would take up the gauntlet against his own son; his own blood.
“Charles had recently raised the alarm that he suspected his father had the intent to kill him, and considering that the younger Anyanwu’s sin is his membership of APC, we wonder whether the older Anyanwu does not know the legal and eternal consequences of treachery and bloodshed. That a man would sell his soul to the devil is awful in itself but that the same man would be in league with suspected hounds to kill his own son is sacrilegious and an unforgivable sin”.
GTCO therefore called for the immediate and unconditional release of Charles Anyanwu, warning of dire consequences should he die. “PDP and the police should know that Rivers people have tied the life of Charles Anyanwu and other incarcerated APC supporters on their neck, as they will be held accountable and liable in time and eternity should any harm, injury or death assails any of them”.
In responding to the allegation by the Rivers state government and the APC, the State Police Command said such “spurious and wispy allegations against it and false alarm raised by His Excellency, Rt Hon. Chibuike R. Amaechi, the Executive Governor of Rivers State, to the effect that the Command exposes Hon. Dakuku Peterside, the Rivers State’s All Progressives Congress (APC) Gubernatorial candidate to danger by withdrawing policemen attached to him, unsubstantiated killings and plan to arrest supporters of his party” were unfortunate.
Dan Bature said since his assumption of duty as the Commissioner of Police six months ago, “I have remained focused and committed to performing my constitutional duties and responsibilities of protecting lives and property amongst others. I have refused to be provoked or drawn in unnecessary responses to the avalanche of unsubstantiated allegations, in most cases wild imaginations that are predicated in falsehood that seem to be the penchant of the State Government”.
He explained that the redeployment of C4i Policemen from Hon. Dakuku Peterside to their traditional duties of fighting violent crimes and their immediate replacement with the elite Special Protection Unit (SPU) had now been attributed to withdrawal of the policemen attached to him.
Bature said cases of cultists’ related clashes that sometime resulted in deaths have suddenly been attributed to killing of political party supporters. The alleged killing of seven supporters of a political party is not only unfounded as the Command has not received such report.
“Arrests made on cases of unlawful possession of firearms, robbery, cultism and murder are now attributed to politics. What a mathematical wonder! Six suspects arrested and charged to court for unlawful possessions of firearms have now become over 400 supporters of a political party in our custody.
“The allegation of the purported plan to arrest 307 leaders of a political party is nothing but a ruse to whip up public sympathy. The Command has no plan to arbitrarily arrest anybody. Anyone who is not planning to cause or foster violence or breach of public peace has no cause to fear or raise false alarm. We should be mindful of the fact that security issues are not matters for comical entertainment.”
The CP noted that the vituperations were frustrating signs of the Government’s inability to pressure the Command to release hardened criminals involved in heinous cases of murder, deadly cult activities, unlawful firearms possession, kidnappings and sundry acts of lawlessness that ordinarily would have been charged to court but for the industrial action of the Rivers State Judiciary.