by Adeola Balogun
Last week’s fracas in Rivers which was caused by the disruption of an All progressives Congress (APC) rally by the police has resurfaced in the minds of many again after the re-occurrence of the incident at another rally today.
Reports have it that not only did the police interrupt this time, they also came armed and decided to shoot at will.
Last week’s incident saw a Senator, Magnus Abe, shot and hospitalized after being injured with a rubber bullet.
The APC has issued a statement condemning the attacks and the reign of impunity being witnessed in Rivers.
The statement reads:
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has raised the alarm that sympathizers of President Goodluck Jonathan are pushing Nigeria to the precipice, after PDP-sponsored and police-backed militants attacked a peaceful rally in Rivers State with guns and other weapons, for the second consecutive Sunday.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the hoodlums, who invaded the venue of the rally by the Save Rivers Movement (SRM) in Bori, where the executives of the pan Rivers group in Khana Local
Government Area of the state were to be inaugurated, attacked those in attendance and beat up some of the journalists who were invited to cover the event, damaging their vehicles and equipment in the process.
It said while the attack was going on, the police – who had been formally informed of the rally and were expected to provide protection – instead gave the hoodlums a free rein, in the most egregious and open display of partisanship by an institution of the state saddled with ensuring the protection of lives and property of all citizens.
APC said the police carried its partisanship to another level when, the previous day (Saturday), it sent over 300 men to protect a pro-PDP rally that was used solely to launch a blistering verbal assault on the APC and Gov. Chibuike Amaechi. The same police have offered protection for a Pro-PDP group, GDI, which is holding another rally in Degema on Sunday.
”Today’s (Sunday’s) attack came a week after a similar one saw a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Magnus Abe, shot by policemen who also attacked and tear-gassed innocent women and children, among others.
”As the presidency-backed impunity in Rivers worsens, we at the APC are left with no choice than to alert all well-meaning Nigerians as well as the international Community to call President Jonathan to order, since he has refused to allow peace to reign in the state just because of his personal ambition.
”Because of the danger this state-backed thuggery can inflict on our young democracy; because of the harm being done to the polity by escalating political violence; and because of the fact that impunity does not breed peace, we will continue to cry out, hoping that reason will prevail and that President Jonathan will no longer allow his ambition to be watered by the blood of the same citizens he swore an oath to protect.
”It is clear that despite the presidency’s loud silence on the Rivers crisis, it is the architect of the violence in the state, and the 2014 Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and the 2015 general elections are the reasons. That is why we will not relent in blaming the presidency for the violence. Surely, when the presidency is tired of violence, peace will return to Rivers state,” the party said.
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