By Akombo Aondona, Abuja
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to investigate attacks on its Port Harcourt, Rivers State rally, which it alleged was carried out by the opposition’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-sponsored thugs.
A statement on Thursday, 26 January 2023 by the APC National Publicity Secretary, Barr Felix Morka, condemned the Rivers attack.
Morka wrote: “The violent attack at a rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Port Harcourt on Thursday, January 19, 2023 involving the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and rapid gunfire was despicable, and represents a new and dangerous dimension in political violence in the build up to next month’s general election. The detonation of IED and gunfire resulted in serious injuries to Party members and supporters in the immediate vicinity of the attack.”
The APC National Publicity Secretary continued: “The attack, which was carried out by suspected thugs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was led by senior officials of the Port-Harcourt City Local Government Area, ostensibly, on a mission to disrupt and disperse the rally at the traditional grounds of Rumuwoji Town in Mile 1 area of Port-Harcourt under the pretext of enforcing the draconic Executive Order 21 and 22 of the Rivers State Government enacted to stifle opposition political engagements. To be clear, the Port-Harcourt rally was convened in accordance with all applicable constitutional and legal standards of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We strongly condemn this gruesome attack at the Port-Harcourt rally. It constitutes an assault on our democracy, and a clear and present threat to next month’s general election. The escalation of violence calculated to intimidate and scuttle legitimate campaign activities by opposition political parties in Rivers State is unacceptable and must stop. The perpetrators and victims of campaign violence are all Nigerians and we cannot permit or excuse anyone to inflict harm, maim or kill others on account of political partisanship. That is the direct antithesis of our democratic norms and negates the greatness of our national democratic aspiration.”
Morka added: “We call on the Inspector General of Police to order a full, thorough and expeditious investigation of the incident. Statements credited to the Rivers State Police Command that there was no explosion at the rally do not cut the urgency and seriousness of the matter. The Police cannot casually and hastily dismiss eye-witness reports of explosion of IEDs at the rally without full and proper investigation. If such an investigation has been conducted, the Nigeria Police should do well to make the investigation report public.
“This is a matter of national concern. Nigerians deserve to know and must be reassured that attending opposition campaign rallies in Rivers State is not akin to a journey of no return to the frontlines of illicit and orchestrated war. Every citizen, irrespective of partisan political affiliation, is entitled to equal protection of law. As the Chief Security Officer of the state, His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike, must do his duty to offer equal protection of the law to all citizens of the State, and work with law enforcement agencies to solve this heinous crime, prevent a recurrence and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We wish our Party members injured in the attack speedy and full recovery. We urge our members to remain calm, strong, and undeterred as they continue to turn up massively at our Party’s campaign rallies in the state.
“As signatories to the Peace Pact, political parties owe themselves and the country a duty to engage in issue-based campaigns, to rein in their members, and eschew all forms of violence during the remainder of the electioneering season and beyond.”