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Crisis in Rivers deepens as destruction of campaign billboards escalates

By Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt 
26 January 2023   |   11:34 am
Few weeks to general elections, tension in Rivers State has escalated, as campaign materials of parties are destroyed. 

Assault on campaign billboards in Etche Council of Rivers State…yesterday Photo: Ann Godwin<br />

Few weeks to general elections, tension in Rivers State has escalated, as campaign materials of parties are destroyed. 
Some of the vandalised billboards sighted by The Guardian belong to Social Democratic Party (SDP), All Progressives Congress (APC), Accord Party and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Most APC billboards, whose governorship candidate is Tonye Cole, located in Umuokpurukpu in Omuma Council of the state, Uyeanda in Andoni, Chokocho and Egwi in Etche Council have been vandalised. 

Similarly, SDP campaign billboards and posters with the pictures of its governorship candidate, Magnus Abe, in 23 councils of the state, have been destroyed. 
Accord Party’ standard bearer, Dumu Lulu-Briggs, is not left out, as his campaign materials were equally destroyed. 

Campaign materials of Siminialayi Fubara of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also suffered the same fate, as campaign materials situated in Etche Council were vandalised, 

Efforts to confirm why the police have not been able to prevent the destruction was unsuccessful as the spokesperson for the Rivers command, Grace Iringe Koko, failed to respond to calls put across to her.

However, spokesman for APC in the state, Darlington Nwauju, said: “Political intolerance we see in Rivers State validates the fact that it has become a matter of state policy for the PDP to intimidate other political parties to ensure only their supporters gain access to polling booths on election day.”

Also reacting, Esedi Joe David, state Publicity Secretary of SDP, described as very worrisome the situation in the state.

“It is very disturbing, we see it as an outburst of frustration for those, who know they will not be in Government House, come May 29 but we are not perturbed because people are waiting for SDP, the more they destroy,  the more we put new ones because  there is no time and before you know it, we will the  election.”

While regretting that security agencies have not been active as expected, he urged  them to go after the hoodlums and apprehend them to enable others to learn from them.

Efforts to reach the state Publicity Secretary of PDP, Sydney Pygbara, were futile as he did not respond to calls and messages.