Insecurity and political attacks are no longer news in Rivers State since early 2013 when the state was plunged into political crisis that saw the state governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and his political associates moving to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Despite several moves by security agencies and stakeholders to stem the tide of violence, the situation seems to be insurmountable as hoodlums and gunmen loyal to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the APC have continued to attack political rallies in the state.
The development has left some dead while others have sustained machete cuts that have left them deformed. In all the attacks recorded so far, the attendant result has seen the two major political party pointing accusing fingers at each other.
Last week, the governorship candidate of the PDP, Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike and his team were attacked at Bakana in Degema local government area of the state and few days later a reprisal attack was launched on the APC governorship candidate, Hon Dakuku Adolphus Peterside and his campaign team in the same community.
Report had it that the hoodlums invaded the PDP rally, shooting sporadically into the air. One PDP member was said to have been killed in the process, while several others were injured.
Reacting to the development, the state Chairman of PDP, Felix Obuah blamed the attack on APC, calling for the arrest and interrogation of Mr. Dakuku Peterside and Otelema Dan Amachree who alleged had a hand in the act.
He said: “the interrogation and arrest of the Rivers APC governorship candidate, Mr. Dakuku Peterside and Mr. Otelema Dan Amachree, factional Speaker of the Rivers State assembly will help the police in their investigation to get at all the APC members involved.”
Apart from the Bakana incident, there were also attacks on the APC ward rally at Ward 6, Number six Field in the old township area of Port Harcourt when unknown thugs stormed the venue with dangerous weapons. It was gathered that three people are currently recuperating in the hospital as a result of injuries from machete cuts and broken bottles.
“At the tail end of the rally, some of our members were attacked and as I speak to you, three are lying critically ill in a hospital in Port Harcourt. These hoodlums whisked away a lot of property belonging to our members in that area,” said Charles Ahaolu, Secretary of the APC campaign organisation in Port Harcourt city Local government.
These attacks are coming less than three weeks after heavy shooting disrupted the APC rally in Okrika. There is no gainsaying the fact that the incident in Okrika cannot be forgotten in a hurry as a policeman lost his life and several journalists got injured.
Presently, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 6, AIG Tunde Ogunsakin, has temporarily relocated to Rivers State in a bid to unravel those behind these heinous acts.
At a press briefing in Port Harcourt, Ogunsakin, who was a police commissioner in the state before his elevation to AIG, said as a former police commissioner, he knows the political players and their activities. He reiterated that the Police was ready to bring all those responsible for the attack on APC rally at Okrika to book, stating that the command has almost concluded investigation on the attack on PDP rally at Abua/Odual local government.
The AIG, who regretted that political actors in the state failed to keep to the peace accord, which has led to the death of one policeman and others injured promised not to leave any stone unturned in the course of the investigations.
“It would be recalled that on Wednesday 4th February 2015, I had a 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.
“It is important to state that in the course of the aforementioned meeting with the political parties and stakeholders, aspirants and other political actors signed a “Peace Accord”, which was committal in nature to the effect that all political actors will among other things eschew all forms of electoral violence. Unfortunately, it has become apparent that the political actors, who were present at the said stakeholders meeting, are not complying with the “peace accord”.
“It was agreed that in the event of violation of the content of the Peace Accord, we will not hesitate to visit any person(s) concerned with the full wrath of the law. It is on the strength of this that I am temporarily relocating to Port Harcourt.
“I have the capacity to overwhelm any person(s) or groups(s) that will rise to contravene the Electoral Act or disrupt public peace.”
However, the recent developments have shown that neither the political leaders nor their supporters have fear for the warning issued by the AIG. What is also not known, is whether one political party or those they have stepped toes on are responsible for these attacks to rob it on the other.
Just as Ogunsakin stated that no stone will be left unturned in the investigation, Rivers people are watching to see the outcome. Just like Ogunsakin, the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba was also a police commissioner in this state and one believes that they have the interest of this state at heart.
Ogunsakin, must therefore, go beyond the sweet talks and quick denials of these political parties to every crime committed and look critically at both remote and present causes of these crisis and bring all those responsible to book, no matter how highly placed these persons are. It is only when this is done that the lives of innocent persons will be safe in this state.