In Rivers, It’s Peace Accord Without Violent-Free Rallies
DESPITE the peace accord signed by the political parties and their candidates in Rivers State with a promised to carry out their political campaigns responsibly and in non-violent manner as well as ensures that their supporters maintain peace before, during and after the elections. Regrettably, in spite of the agreements and the warnings by the Nigerian Police authority in-charge of the zone, political violence has continued unabated in the state.
It would be recalled that the first peace pact which was initiated by the United States Government was signed on January 22, by the three governorship candidates in the state — Nyesom Wike (PDP), Dakuku Peterside (APC) and Tonye Princewill (Labour Party). However, three days after the All Progressive Congress (APC) Secretariat in Okirika Local Government was attacked and bombed by yet to be identified persons.
To forestall peace and order, the second agreement which was signed on February 6, by all the governorship candidates of the political parties in the state under the supervision of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 6, Tunde Ogunsakin.
The most brazen of the attacks happened in the early hours of the flag off of the APC Presidential campaign rally in Port Harcourt, where two sets of gunmen respectively attacked buses conveying the party supporters from different parts of the state on their way to Port Harcourt.
According to reports, the victims numbering over 20, were said to have been attacked by the gunmen in Degema and Sakpenwa areas of the state respectively.
Between January 10 and 24, several persons including royal fathers, women, and youths believed to be supporters of the APC were reportedly attacked in their homes and at meeting halls in the Local Councils. While some lost their lives in the process, others sustained severe injuries.
On February 5 in separate attacks, three persons including a member of the APC were killed by gunmen in two Local Government Areas of the state. Two of the victims were shot dead and scores of others were wounded at a youth gathering in Onne, Eleme Local Government Area. The gunmen it was gathered stormed the youth event and shoot sporadically at the people directly, which saw one person died on the spot and another on the way to the hospital.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Rivers State chapter lamenting the series of attacks on its supporters, particularly on the convoy of its governorship candidate, Nyesom Wike, in a statement signed by the Special Adviser (Media) to the state party chairman, Jerry Needam, condemned the attempt on the life of a stalwart of the party, Chukwudi Dimkpa by some gunmen at his residence in Rumueme area of Port Harcourt.
Meanwhile, the APC in a counter statement on stated that over 30 of its members and supporters have been killed in the political violence that has continued to rock the state in recent time.
“Our investigations showed that we have lost no fewer than 30 of our members and supporters in political attacks instigated in parts of the state by agents of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). As painful as this is, we are miffed that no single arrest has been made by the police in connection with these politically-motivated killings calculated to intimidate and annihilate us a political party,” the state APC Chairman, Davis Ibiamu Ikanya said.
He added, “With the shooting, bombing and successful disruption of our Okirika rally, which was aimed principally at eliminating our gubernatorial candidate, Hon. Dakuku Peterside, we can conclude that they are determined that violence is their option.”
Following the incessant political crisis in the state the State Police Command has been forced to embark on intensive stop and search of nooks and crannies and vehicles in effort to checkmate unwholesome acts that may impede the peaceful conduct of the 2015 general elections in the state.
As part of measures to ensure peace before, during and after the elections, the State Police Command has directed anyone in possession of illegal firearm to deposit such with the Command before the commencement of the elections on March 28 or face the full weight of the law.
Also, the AIG Zone 6, Ogunsakin during a chat with journalists in the state said that the political parties and the candidates in the state have failed to comply with the peace accord signed before him with the aim of ensuring peace, security and safety of lives before, during and after the elections.
He said, “On February 2015, I had meeting with all political parties and stakeholders in Rivers State during which I stated that I have a mandate from the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba to ensure that electioneering activities are conducted under a peaceful and hitch-free environment.”
Ogunsakin said that following the violation of the peace accord, the police will not hesitate to visit any person(s) or party that foments any political crisis in the state with the full wrath of the law, adding that he has he has decided to relocate temporarily the Zonal headquarters to Port Harcourt due to the spate of political violence in Rivers State recently. He, however, warned that he will not condone any act that would disrupt peace and order in any of the states under his control, particularly Rivers state.
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