Political violence raged in parts of the country on Sunday with an explosion rocking the All Progressives Congress secretariat in Abam Ama, Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Just as the news of the explosion hit Port Harcourt, another round of violence was recorded in Rumueme, Obio/Akpor LGA where four APC members were machetted by persons believed to be political thugs.
The Rivers incidents came less than 24 hours after two campaign buses of President Goodluck were set ablaze by some youths at the Mangu Street junction in the Jos North LGA of Plateau State.
The PUNCH learnt that unidentified persons threw dynamite into the three-storey APC secretariat at about 3.14am which caused extensive damage to the ground floor.
The APC Chairman in the LGA, Mr. Christian Asifamak, who narrated the incident, said that his office was the worst hit as the entire wall was pulled down by the impact of the explosion.
“In the early hours of Sunday, some unknown group of persons threw dynamite into our party secretariat, he explained, lamenting that the attack was “a deliberate provocation by our opponents, the Peoples Democratic Party, to draw the APC into a battle that could destabilise our LGA.”
He warned that “the APC in Okrika would not allow Okrika to become a hotbed of crises as the PDP would wish.”
Asifamak claimed that the PDP had resorted to violence because of its rejection by the Okrika for failing to bring development to their LGA.
He added, “Till now the East-West Road through which we access our community has been left abandoned by a PDP-led Federal Government while Governor Chibuike Amaechi who is not an Okrika man built a ring road in Okrika and also rebuilt the portion of the federal road that links the LGA to the Port Harcourt refinery.
“We however wish to warn our brothers in the PDP to remember that the land of Okrika has been known to defend itself and its people against aggression and that any Okrika person who brings crisis to the land answers for it.”
Also, the governorship candidate of the APC in the state, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who was in the community to assess the extent of the damage, expressed worry that the PDP and its supporters had initiated a pattern of attacks on the people of the state.
He said, “The Police and other security agencies should tackle the excesses of the opposition party. This development is very sad and it is unfortunate that some persons in the society have decided to choose this path.
“If you have noticed, there has been a pattern of violence lately. On January 6, when we had our presidential rally at the Adokiye Amesiemeka Stadium, you would have noted that some of our people who were coming from Abonnema, Degema and Asari-Toru axis were attacked around Sa-Ama junction.
“The persons who were coming from Kaani and Gokana were attacked around Saakpenwa junction. Some other groups who were coming for the same rally were attacked around Elele. All fingers point to the other political party, the PDP.
“We have raised these issues with the Commissioner of Police; we have raised it with the security agencies. Not much has been done after then. Aside from that, you must also have observed a trend. A few days ago, they were in Abonnema to campaign; a faction of PDP fought with another faction of the PDP and two persons were confirmed dead.”
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Mohammad, said the police were already investigating the explosion.
“The command is aware of the incident (in Okrika). Information at my disposal is sketchy. However, investigation has commenced,” Ahmad said.
In Rumueme, three out of the four injured APC members were rushed to the Kesley Harrison Hospital in Port Harcourt for treatment.
The APC leader in Obio/Akpor LGA and a House of Representatives candidate, Chief Tony Okocha, said that a Warri chief who was in Rumueme for the APC rally on Sunday, was machetted several times.
Okocha, who personally drove the three injured person to the hospital, lamented that the whereabouts of the chief was unknown.
He warned in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents that members of the APC were almost exhausting their patience over the continued attack on them by persons believed to be PDP thugs.
Okocha urged the state Police command to invite the leaders of the political parties to a meeting and warn them against violence.
Police station burnt as soldiers arrest 13
Meanwhile, 13 people have been arrested in Jos in connection with the burning down of Jonathan’s campaign buses on Saturday.
A police post was however set ablaze by some people protesting the arrests by the soldiers attached to the Special Task Force on security in Jos.
The state Police Commissioner, Mr. Nasiru Oki, told our correspondent in Jos that those arrested had yet to be handed over to the police.
The Governor, Jonah Jang, condemned the burning of the campaign buses, vowing that security agencies would apprehend more of those behind the incident
Jang, at a church service to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance and Emblem Appeal week, said, “Plateau is PDP and the people of the state would continue to support the party. The PDP shall form the next Federal Government; the, PDP will win the governorship election in Plateau State in 2015.”
The Acting Chairman of the PDP in the state, Mr. Raymond Dabo, said that despite the burning of the two campaign buses, President Goodluck Jonathan and the party’s governorship candidate, Mr. Gyang Pwajok, would win the February elections.
Dabo described the incident as unfortunate, adding that the party had advised its supporters to remain calm and focused.
Also on Sunday, the Presidency said the burning of the vehicles had further demonstrated the level of desperation by the opposition and their plot to intimidate Nigerians out of the political space.
It added in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Prof. Rufai Alkali, that would not deter Jonathan from ensuring that free and fair elections were conducted nationwide next month.
The statement read in part, “We have observed a dangerous trend of politically- motivated violence unleashed on innocent Nigerians by supporters of those who have shown desperation to assume political power at all costs.
“While we are not surprised by acts of desperation already shown by these people who have no articulate agenda for nation building, we are amazed at how quickly they are willing to manifest their evil intentions on our dear country.
“The incidence in Jos, Plateau State where our campaign vehicles were torched by irate youth underscores the need for vigilance as we progress towards the General Elections. This criminal behaviour, which is meant to intimidate others and deny them their freedom of choice, stands condemned.
“The leaders whose utterances and conduct have encouraged this kind of behaviour must bear full responsibility for this. With the way things are going, it seems the ultimate agenda of making Nigeria ungovernable as prophesied by these politicians is underway.
“We declare unequivocally that no Nigerian citizen should be prevented from campaigning in any part of the country. We therefore call on the law enforcement Agencies to protect and guarantee the safety of every Nigerian legitimately canvassing for votes all over Nigeria.’’
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