Being Text of a Joint Press Conference by the State Working Committee of the Rivers APC and the 2023 Campaign Council on Friday, January 20, 2023
Gentlemen of the Press, good morning as we welcome you to this joint Press Conference.
1. This Conference is called to intimate you, the good people of Rivers State and the Nigerian public of the vicious attack on our governorship campaign train which berthed in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area yesterday by thugs working for the faction of the People’s Democratic Party loyal to Nyesom Wike, outgoing Governor of Rivers State.
2. This unprovoked attack on our party’s campaign with shots of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) by armed thugs occurred at the commencement of the Rally at the traditional grounds of Rumuwoji Town in Mile 1, Port Harcourt City Local Government Area.
3. We wish to state unequivocally no part, Section or paragraph of Wike’s obnoxious Executive Orders 21 and 22 which subjects political campaigns in Rivers State by opposition parties to strangulation prohibits the use of traditional squares or grounds in our towns and villages.
4. To be specific, the hoodlums who sought to invade our Rally but met resistance from our youths were led by the Mayor of Port Harcourt City Local Government Council Area, Allwell Ihunda, and a former Mayor of that Council, Victor Ihunwo. Their intention was to disrupt the Rally. They came to maim, kill and destroy. Their intimidating terror tactics is to strike fear into the hearts of our members and thereby deter us from executing further campaigns in the State but they were overpowered by the resistance of our courageous party men and women.
5. The incident which left five party faithful with various degrees of severe injuries from the detonation of the IED, known in local parlance as dynamite, also recorded a barage of gunfire calculated at enforcement of the threats by PDP thugs to lock out the APC Rally from the traditional grounds.
6. The victims of the attack who received treatment yesterday and are continuing with same include Hope Isaac (F) of Ward 20, Paul Oghonemu (M) of Ward 20, Felicia Gogo (F) of Ward 6, Amba Lizzy Frank (F) of Ward 6 and Gift-Koko Angela (F) of Ward 20.
7. We have no knowledge of arrest of any suspect even though a formal report has been lodged with the Police authorities at the Mile 1 Police Station.
8. Curiously, while the PDP Government and leaders across the State are violating the rights of opposition parties by attacking campaigns in the 23 LGAs, the factional PDP itself had always acted in gross violation of the Electoral Act. In clear contravention of Section 92 of the Electoral Act 2022 providing for the “Prohibition of Certain Conduct at Political Campaigns”, the PDP conducted her campaigns in Ikwerre Local Government Area in the vicinity of a religious centre, St. Martin’s Anglican Church in Omagwa only on Tuesday this week.
9. Without a shred of doubt, the source and principal stimulus of these streak of savage attacks and political banditry on the APC and other opposition parties in Rivers State is the Governor himself. Nyesom Wike set the tone for the ongoing political violence with the enactment of his repressive and dictatorial Executive Orders 21 and 22 which obstructs and constitute infringements on the rights of other political parties and candidates to campaign for votes as allowed by law in Rivers State.
10. Unfortunately, these high crimes of attempted murders are happening against the promises of Mr. Okon Effiong Okon at his assumption of duty late in October last year because the CP has not walked his talk. The PDP hoodlums are emboldened by the fact that contrary to the assurances of the Commissioner of Police as quoted by the State Police PRO, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, that he is “an advocate of human rights”, Mr. Okon Effiong Okon has watched rights of opposition parties trampled with unprecedented impunity since his arrival in Rivers State. We are shocked that the CP who assured Rivers people that “under his watch the rights of persons would be respected” and “vowed to ensure violent free campaigns in the build-up to the 2023 general elections” is not only unable to effect a single arrest and prosecution from all the reported incidents of attacks on political opponents but denied a costly bomb attack on innocent and unarmed citizens of Rivers State.
11. In the light of the foregoing, we hereby call on all security agencies domiciled in the State, particularly the Director of Department of State Security Services, to redouble their efforts and rein in the Governor, Local Government Council Chairmen and other PDP officials who have nothing but violence as tool to perpetuate themselves in power.
12. An end must be put to these provocative primitive actions or we shall be forced to defend ourselves with every legitimate tool at our disposal.
13. This call is even more imperative given the shocking report on ARISE TV news last night quoting the Commissioner of Police as categorically denying the attack on our Rally with IEDs. Video evidence during recognitions as the Rally commenced however puts the issue beyond doubt of the IED explosion accompanied by gunfire from assault rifles which resulted in the injuries to our members.
14. The brazen denial of the use of IEDs in the attack by Mr. Commissioner of Police as reported on Arise TV notwithstanding, a follow-up attack on the family house in the Diobu area of Mr. Lucky Ottos, one of our dynamic party youths, was recorded yesterday night at past 20:00 Hrs. The hoodlums who came ostensibly to harm Lucky, if they had met him, stabbed and left his relatives: Miss Veronica Wariboko (F) andMrs Silver Patrick Noah (F) critically injured. They also broke the window to his room and made away with two phones. This matter has also been reported at the Mile 1 Divisional Headquarters of the Nigeria Police.
15. On the reported denial that an explosive devise was used to bomb the Port Harcourt Rally yesterday, it is clear from the swift reaction of the Police Commissioner that Mr. Okon Effiong Okon has more information on this dastardly attack. The least expected of an Officer of his calibre is absolute neutrality and not draw hasty conclusions on issues that bother on direct threat to human lives, peace and security of the State. We hereby place the Commissioner of Police on notice to make full disclosure of what transpired before, during and after yesterday’s bombing and shooting incident by providing evidence from the speed of light investigation of the incident. We further put him on notice that the Rivers APC shall not condone any attempt by anyone, no matter how highly positioned, to undermine the security of the lives and properties of our members throughout this campaigns and elections season. We will not tolerate any repetition of the carnage we suffered in the hands of thugs actively deployed by PDP in connivance with then Commissioner of Police, Mbu Joseph Mbu, ahead of and during the 2015 general elections to rig our party out of power in Rivers State.
16. The State leadership of the party and Campaign Council salutes the courage of our party faithful and supporters who withstood the attack by men of the underworld while sympathizing with the unfortunate victims of the monstrous attack. The party and Campaign Council share in your pains and would stand with you until you recover fully from the injuries sustained in defence of democracy and your fundamental rights as free citizens of Rivers State.
17. Furthermore, we salute the women and youth of the Rivers APC for rising up to the occasion to continue with the campaign and urge them to remain vigilant and steadfast as we move into the hinterlands of our State on our well-received campaigns to spread the gospel of redemption and restoration that the APC brings to Rivers State.
18. Nothing should deter us from reaching the electorate with the message of hope and restoration that our governorship candidate, Tonye Cole, Mni, and his deputy, Dr. Innocent Barikor, bring. All hands must be on deck to rescue our dear State from the ruins of Wike’s failed, disastrous leadership of nepotism.
We thank you for your patience and kind attention. God bless Rivers State.
Sogbeye C. Eli
Spokesman, Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council
January 20, 2023.