Cross River: Despite Peace Pact, Violence Persists
A FEW weeks ago, all the political parties in Cross River State signed a peace accord with the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zone 6, Mr. Tunde Ogunshaki, with a promise to play the game according to the rules.
While signing the peace accord, the Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Pastor Usani Usani had accused the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members of buying off voters’ Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and Voter’s Personal Identification Number (PIN) with the aim of manipulating the election.
At the meeting, the PDP candidate Prof. Ben Ayade had admitted collecting voter’s PIN but for the purpose of sending bulk messages to them.
He said the process was not to rig election but to reach out to their supporters by massages for them to come out and vote.
But State Secretary of the party, Mr. Victor Ebong said relevant law enforcement agencies must rise up to the occasion of ridding the democratic process of electoral fraud and manipulations as typified by the purchase of PVCs by agents of the ruling party.
Barely few days after signing the accord, it was as if that was the tonic they needed to start trouble. The flash point is Central Senatorial District, particularly Ugep and Southern Senatorial District of the state.
In Ugep, suspected supporters of the member of House of Representatives, Mr. Bassey Ewa of the PDP and the House of Representatives candidate for Labour Party (LP), Mr. Alex Egbona clashed recently shooting indiscriminately. Posters and billboards of Egbona and Ewa were torn.
Apparently vexed with the outcome of the PDP primaries in the state, Senator Ben Ayade’s campaign team led by the governor, Senator Liyel Imoke were stoned and booed in Atan Unoyom, Abi and Bakassi.
In Calabar Municipal and Calabar South, posters of Senator Ayade, the governorship candidate of LP Ntufam Fiedelis Ugbo and his deputy, Mrs. Nella Andem Ewa Rabanna, the Senatorial candidate of PDP, Mr. Gershom Bassey, Senator representing Cross River Senatorial and candidate of LP, Senator Bassey Otu, member representing Municipal Calabar South/Akpabuyo/Bakassi, Pastor Essien Ayi and many others have all been torn. Each party accused the other of being the first to tear posters even though no arrest has been made.
The real violence came two weeks ago with the attempt by some unknown gunmen on the life of the Cross River South senatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Gershom Bassey.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), for Cross River State, Mr. Hogan Bassey confirmed the attack, saying the police were investigating.
Similarly, the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Mr. Larry Odey was attacked by unknown gunmen suspected to be hired killers on January 27.
The PDP had fingered the opposition party to be involved in the attack of Bassey and warned the LP to stop intimidating its members and engaging in violent acts. It charged LP to face its campaign and leave its members alone.
The state chairman of the party, Ntufam John Okon while speaking with some journalists on the recent alleged assassination attempt on one of its chieftains, Bassey said his party was concerned that LP was introducing intimidation into the system, thus overheating the polity.
He said, “we have been campaigning in every nook and cranny of the state, appealing to the electorates to vote for our candidates while the Labour Party has been going about intimating our members. We have kept the peace and Labour Party must not take our caution as weakness.”
The PDP chairman said although his party was not intimated by the alleged action of the opposition, it was needful for him to warn that the ruling party will not sit back and watch its members intimidated or attacked.
He urged the Police to ensure the safety of the general public during this period, saying the party has reported cases of intimation to the Police and was expecting them to handle the matter according to the law of the land.
Apparently suspecting that the insinuations by PDP were targeted at LP and its Senatorial candidate, Prince Bassey Otu, the state chairman, Mr. Austin Ibok, said, “We are reliably informed that during the alleged shooting at Gershom Bassey’s house, a (Police) rifle was taken away from one of his security men.
“Today, we understand, that rifle was returned after negotiation with one of Gershom Bassey’s aides. The politician who is also from the same political ward with Gershom Bassey allegedly negotiated with militants who we are reliably informed seized the riffle. How did PDP identify the gunmen to negotiate with?”
“We demand that PDP and Gershom Bassey tell the people of Cross River state their role in the insecurity of this state.”
The Labour Party boss absolved Prince Otu of any blame as alleged by some persons and PDP members in the state.
His words, “Our attention has been drawn to malicious allegations made in the mass and social media accusing the Labour Party and indeed our party’s standard bearer for the southern senatorial district elections, Prince Bassey Otu of masterminding a recently reported shooting by gunmen at the residence of the PDP flag bearer, Mr. Gershom Bassey.
“A desperate government led by a desperate party can do anything to remain in office, including the sale of the governorship ticket to the highest bidder.
“There are allegations of their hiring people for electoral campaign purposes, also making financial promises at campaigns without fulfilling them,” the statement added.
Senator Otu decamped late last year from PDP to LP where he is now the LP flag bearer for the 2015 elections for Southern Senatorial seat in Cross River.
The police on their part through the AIG in charge of Zone 6 command have assured all of adequate security in the forthcoming general elections.
He declared that the police owe no allegiance to any political party as far the 2015 elections are concerned but incentives await the Nigeria Police force as he assured personnel of better welfare packages before, during and after the general elections.
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