Rivers APC defies attacks, holds rally
• Nobody can stop us, Cole declares
• PDP denies responsibility
Despite attacks by armed persons at the venue for the All Progressives Congress (APC) rally at Omuma Council of Rivers State, the party went on to hold its scheduled rally, yesterday.
The Guardian gathered that the yet to be identified armed men, dressed in police camouflage, invaded the Umunachi community ground venue of the rally at about 6 a.m., destroyed canopies and vandalised vehicles and equipment set for the programme.
An eyewitness said few policemen on ground at the time of the attack could not repel the assailants.
But not deterred by the destruction, APC leaders and supporters went on with the rally, with a visit to the King of Omuma, Monday Ojiegbe Onyeshi Agwuru.
In his speech at the rally ground, the APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, told the crowd that nobody would shut down their future, promising to correct all the wrongs and ills prevailing in the society, if elected.
Earlier, while reacting to the attack, spokesman for the state APC 2023 Campaign Council, Sogbeye Eli, said: “This attack, though unprovoked, was not without notice. Ahead of the planned visit to Omuma Council by the Tonye Cole/Innocent Barikor governorship campaign trail, threats to attack and stop the candidate of the APC from campaigning in that council had been made by a member representing Omuma Constituency at the Rivers State House of Assembly and the PDP candidate for the Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency at the February 25 elections, and the Omuma Council Chairman, Mr. Chisom Nwaiwu.
“Consequent upon those threats, the leader of the APC in Omuma Council, Mr. Onyekachi Ojiegbe (alias Atiku), petitioned the state Commissioner of Police, to notify him of the impending attack. The commissioner, it was gathered, minuted the petition to the O.C. Operations of the State Command, who in turn detailed the Police Area Commanders at Oyigbo and Bori to take preemptive action.
“Unfortunately, even though three detachments of police officers were deployed, 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.”
In his reaction, the Director of Publicity, Rivers PDP Campaign Council, Ogbonna Nwuke, denied insinuations by the APC that its members were behind the attacks.
Nwuke, in a statement, urged the public to disregard unsubstantiated allegations, saying the crisis, which is community based, was triggered by the unlawful arrest of a young men, who are not politicians.
“As usual, the APC propaganda machine has found it convenient to place the blame for what transpired on the PDP. While we agree that we are the biggest party in Rivers State, with a very strong followership throughout the councils, the PDP categorically absolves of itself of any involvement in the confrontation that took place,” he said.