National and Rivers State leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), top politicians and reporters yesterday came under gun attack from suspected thugs of the Peoples Democratic Party in a near ambush in Rivers State.
But the heavy presence of security forced the assailants to take to their heels.
The attack came between Omoku, the headquarters of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers state and Big Elele, on the way to the Port Harcourt International Airport Road.
Rivers State PDP Chairman Felix Obuah, hails from the local government.
The National leaders of the APC, lead by Deputy National Chairman (South) Chief Segun Oni, who represented National Chairman Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and state leaders led by the deputy governorship candidate during the April 11 last year’s election, Asita Honourable, were in Omoku to sympathise with the victims of the politically-motivated killings and beheadings. Most of them are members of the APC.
With Oni from Abuja were the National Women Leader Ramatu Tijani and National Youth Leader Ibrahim Jalo, among others.
The sympathy meeting took place at the APC’s local government secretariat in Omoku, a town now deserted for fear of attacks ahead of Saturday’s run off elections.
The trip started from the party’s state secretariat in Port Harcourt, around 8 a.m when party leaders, headed for the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to receive the visitors from where they all moved to Omoku.
Travelling to Omoku in a long convoy, the normal speed of about 100 kilometres per hour was observed, but the return journey witnessed a snail speed of 20 kilometres per hour.
While at Omoku, the APC leaders got information from undisclosed persons that suspected PDP thugs had laid ambush on the route they took to Omoku, to attack them. They were told to consider taking another route to Port Harcourt.
The APC deputy national chairman, however, called the bluff of the rampaging gunmen and insisted that the return journey must be through the same route (Big Elele to Port Harcourt International Airport). Security was immediately beefed up.
Rather than speeding during the return journey, the convoy drivers opted for slow movement, with many fully-armed and battle-ready soldiers, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and riot policemen on hand to protect the convoy
But the assailants remained in the bush from where they were shooting sporadically. They could not move to the busy highway, and instead ran into the bush.
The NWC members were received by APC’s National Vice Chairman, Southsouth, Hilliard Eta, and the party’s Assistant National Secretary, Oji Ngofa, who is a former Chairman of Eleme Local Government of Rivers State, among other chieftains of the party.
Speaking in Omoku, the National Chairman of the APC described the situation in Omoku and other parts of Rivers state as genocide and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate action to halt the madness.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike and the Rivers Chairman of the PDP, were directly accused of being behind the politically-motivated killings across the 23 Local Governments of the state, which the PDP leaders described as supremacy battle among cult groups.
The APC leader said: “I am surprised that innocent people are being killed, beheaded, maimed and annihilated on a daily basis, while Wike is describing it as a cult war. The killings are politically-motivated, not cult war. I feel very sad, angry and ashamed that people are being gruesomely murdered and beheaded in Rivers State.
“This is the height of barbarism, wickedness, criminality, debasement and bestiality. I never thought Nigeria would degenerate to this level. We must not allow the killings to go on. We will speak for you (relatives of the victims) and we will not abandon you. Public inquiry must be put in place.”
Asita, who was weeping while speaking at Omoku, stated that the victims were killed for being members of the APC, declaring that heavens would not fall, if President Buhari took drastic action to halt the killings of political opponents and others in Rivers State, to show the presence of government.
The Rivers deputy governorship candidate of the APC wondered for how long the members of the party would be paying with their blood, their loyalty to the APC, declaring that they would prefer to be members of the party and still be alive.
Asita noted that when the Supreme Court, on January 27 pronounced Wike as the duly-elected governor of Rivers, the APC members thought that would be the end of the killings in the state, but said they were wrong.
Welcoming members of the NWC of APC to Omoku, a former Rivers Commissioner for Power, Augustine Wokocha, said killing of APC members had been a daily occurrence in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government and other parts of the state.
Wokocha stated that the Federal Government must rise up to the security challenge in Rivers State, describing the killings as the height of criminality, a deliberate attack on the members of the APC and an attempt by Rivers PDP chairman to deliver Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA to the PDP, in spite of Obuah’s unpopularity in the area.
Addressing the teeming members of the APC at The Arena in Port Harcourt, the deputy national chairman urged them to come out en masse on Saturday and vote for only the candidates of the APC, to restore sanity to Rivers.
Oni noted at the meeting, which was also attended by a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the APC, Chief Sam Sam Jaja, that the horrendous bloodletting must stop forthwith.
Former governorship candidate Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, the newly-appointed Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said: “Wike’s government is reckless. When you have a government that is foisted on you, what you (NWC members) saw in Omoku would be what would be experienced. The violence was foisted on Rivers people. We sought redress at the tribunal and in court, but the Supreme Court said the current government was validly elected.
“We accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court. We thought it would bring an end to the madness in Rivers State. Quite unfortunately, Rivers people are now being subjected to a lunatic government. Our people are being slaughtered on a daily basis.
“The irresponsible government that we have in Rivers State cannot defend the people of the state. The Federal Government should rise up and defend Rivers people, who want to cast their votes for their preferred candidates for the first time in five years. In free and fair election, APC candidates will win 80 per cent in Rivers State’s 309 wards.”
No fewer than 100 members of the APC were gruesomely murdered by thugs working for the PDP, before, during and after the 2015 general elections, across the 23 LGAs of the state.
PDP leaders in Rivers also claimed that many members of the party were killed by rampaging gunmen, who they alleged were members of the APC.
Most pathetic among the APC members killed before last year’s general elections was the case of a former Chairman of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Council of Rivers state, Chief Christopher Adube, who was assassinated in his Obrikom home in the LGA on April 3, 2015.
Chief Adube, who was buried on December 12 last year, was assassinated along with three of his biological children: Lucky, Joy and John, as well as a family friend, Mr. Iyke Ogarabe, and the Adubes’ driver, Samuel Chukwunonye.
Two of the children of Chief Adube: Paul and Ogechi, who survived the gunshots, and their mother, Patience, were among the persons at yeaterday’s meeting in Omoku.
Paul, who was still in a wheel chair yesterday, because of spinal cord injury, caused by the assassins’ bullets, could not defecate by himself, while someone must assist him to pack the faeces, with iron rods used to support the legs of Ogechi.
In the same Omoku on February 12 this year, no fewer than 24 APC members were again killed and mostly beheaded, with their heads taken away by the gunmen.
At 9 p.m. on March 5, masked gunmen shot dead and beheaded a chieftain of the APC, Franklin Obi, and also killed his wife and 18-year-old son, Bestman, at his residence on Rutachi Street, Omoku.