The All Progressives Congress chapter in Rivers State has said its campaign director in Opobo/Nkoro Opobo Local Government Area, Boma Brown, was abducted by suspected political thugs at the venue of a scheduled rally in the area on Tuesday.
The APC in reaction accused the police of compromise as it claimed policemen were on ground when the attack happened.
The governorship candidate of the party, Tonye Cole, who disclosed this to newsmen said the thugs invaded the party’s campaign venue, shot indiscriminately, and whisked the party chieftain away.
Cole had called for the declaration of a state of emergency in the state due to the spate of political violence.
Also, the APC Publicity Secretary in the state, Darlington Nwauju, described the incident as another barbaric attack on democracy.
Nwauju disclosed that security operatives attached to the governorship candidate, Cole, and the former Director-General, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, however assisted in the rescue of Mr. Brown.
“This is another barbaric attack on our democracy. Parties should be allowed to campaign freely and electorate should be allowed to vote for the candidates of their choice. That is what democracy is all about and not the other way round,” he stated.
Speaking, Cole condemned the attack on the scheduled venue for the party’s rally in Opobo, pointing out that despite the shooting that dispersed everybody, the party would revisit Opobo to hold its campaign.
He said, “This morning, we were on our way to Opobo and they went into our rally ground, scattered everything and carried our local government coordinator forcefully. There was shooting and they dispersed everyone.
“Everybody should be allowed to choose freely who they want to vote for. We will still be in Opobo. Nothing is going to stop us. But right now, we have to go and find the kidnapped, abducted local government chairman.”
Meanwhile, an online video shows uprooted canopies and scattered chairs in an open field, even as the narrator alleged that the hoodlums were led by the Opobo local government chairman who is a member of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
In his remark, the spokesman for the state APC Governorship Campaign Council, Sogbeye Eli, called for the redeployment of the Commissioner of Police, Okon Effiong, over the spate of politically related violence in the state.
Eli in a statement issued on Tuesday accused the CP of compromise.
“The spate of attacks on the campaign trail of the APC governorship candidate in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, took a more dangerous turn today at Opobo, headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area.
“Thugs blocked both ends of the only access road after the convoy of Tonye Cole arrived at the King Jaja Square. Gunshots accompanied by hauling of bottles and other dangerous projectiles at party members massed on the Square stopped the APC governorship candidate from proceeding to the venue designated for the Rally near St. Paul’s Church.
He added, “It is pertinent to note that a team of police officers led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations were on ground at Opobo and witnessed the mayhem.
“We maintain that campaign activities of the governorship candidates of Accord, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, and the Social Democratic Party, Senator Magnus Abe, have suffered similar unprovoked attacks at Etche, Oyigbo, Port Harcourt, Tai and Ahoada West LGAs over the last couple of days without any deterrence measure by the State Police Command.
“In the circumstance, we call on both the Inspector-General of Police and National Security Adviser to enforce their commitments at the commencement of the campaign season not to allow state governors suppress or interfere with the rights of other political parties involved in campaign activities in the build-up to the 2023 general election.”
“We maintain that is the only guarantee to restore sanity in states like Rivers that have been made volatile by anti-democratic forces working in active connivance with compromised Police Commissioners.”
Efforts to reach the spokesperson for the state police command, Grace Iringe-Koko, proved abortive, as her mobile telephone was switched off.
She had yet to respond to a text message sent to her as of the time of filing this report, Tuesday night.