PRE-ELECTION VIOLENCE: Major, another killed in Rivers

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PDP warns against state of emergency

Less than two days to the National and State As­sembly rerun elections in Rivers State, the orgy of violence continued on Thursday with an Army Major and another soldier killed by gunmen.

The military authorities, which confirmed the incident, said that the killing took place in Abonnema, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The AUTHORITY gathered that the Major and other soldiers were on patrol when they were ambushed by the gunmen.

The 2 Brigade, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, which spoke on the attack, described it as a “fierce encounter,” adding that the gun­men were sea pirates operating in Abonnema.

According to a statement by the Assistant Director, Army Pub­lic Relations, 2 Brigade, Port Har­court, Captain Eli Lazarus, an of­ficer and a soldier died in the gunfight.
Lazurus said: “At about 11am today (on Thursday), troops on patrol in Abonnema had a fierce encounter with a group of un­known gunmen suspected to be sea pirates.

“Our troops displayed ex­traordinary valour. Unfortunate­ly, an officer and a soldier, who sustained various degrees of in­juries during the encounter, lost their lives. We are in pursuit of the criminals and will surely get them”, Captain Lazarus declared.
He urged members of the public to go about their lawful activities, assuring that the Army would continue to make neces­sary sacrifices to ensure the sus­tainable peace and security of life and property.

 

Meanwhile, the national lead­ership of the People’s Democrat­ic Party (PDP), which yesterday expressed dismay at the turn of events in Rivers State, warned the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the plot to impose a state of emergency in the state.

The party cautioned that dire consequences would follow if the APC pushed its plot through en­gineered violence.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, the PDP called on its members in Rivers State to resist any move by the APC to scuttle the elections.
Metuh said: “The party is privy to a grand design by the APC to orchestrate violence in the state with a view to truncating the elections, having realised that the PDP and its candidates are more popular and ready to win over­whelmingly in all the reruns.”

He pointed out that the PDP is “aware that the orchestration of violence is designed to serve as a stimulus for the planned im­position of a state of emergency to enable the APC forcefully take over the state which it failed to get through the ballot box. We also know the design to unleash vio­lence is behind the recent infa­mous call by the APC spokesman in Ondo State, Omo’ba Abayomi Adesanya for an emergency rule in Rivers State.”

Metuh continued: “What else, apart from the execution of this plot explains the complains from our candidates and members in Rivers State of constant threats by partisan security operatives as well as the recent gale of arrests, attacks and killing of PDP sup­porters in the state?

Meanwhile, Rivers State Gov­ernor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has declared that the attempt by the Police High Command to arrest the state PDP Chairman, Mr. Fe­lix Obuah, 48 hours to the rerun elections, is politically motivated and aimed at giving advantage to the APC.

The governor also said that by declaring as wanted the chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area, Sabomabo Jackrich, a few days to the elections, the police may have been influenced by po­litical considerations.

Featuring on a radio phone-in programme on Thursday, Gover­nor Wike said the planned politi­cally-motivated arrest of the PDP chairman will be resisted by the people.

He said that the Police High Command brought in policemen from Abuja to disobey the court order restraining security agen­cies from arresting PDP leaders before the elections.
He said that he has given the security agencies all the logistics support required for the elections as the chief security officer of the state, pointing out that the secu­rity agencies have a duty to work within the law.

“Today (Thursday), we re­ceived information that police­men from Abuja are in the state to arrest the PDP state chairman. If the police want to arrest PDP leaders 48 hours to the election, the action is simply politically-motivated”, he said.

 

On the petition written by the Rivers State Government to the embassies of 50 countries, Gov­ernor Wike said it is a confirma­tion of the readiness of the PDP to participate in credible polls. He said already the United States, Britain and Canada, amongst oth­er countries, have requested meet­ings with him on the issue.

He added that the government has uncovered plans by some in­dividuals to ensure that card readers fail in parts of the state, especially in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.

Only on Wednesday, a Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt restrained the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and the Brigadier-General of 2 Brigade, Bori Camp Barracks, Port Har­court from participating in to­morrow’s election.

Other respondents in the suit are the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, the Independ­ent National Electoral Commis­sion, the Resident Electoral Com­missioner, Government of Rivers

State and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Justice George Omereji made the order after Obuah filed a mo­tion in suit Number PHC/601/2016, asking the court to restrain Amae­chi and others from using the mili­tary to monitor the election.

The order read: “That an order of interim injunction be and here­by made restraining the former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Resident Elector­al Commissioner from the use of and deployment of the Chief of De­fence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and the Brigadier-General of the Bori Camp Barracks, their agents, serv­ants, officers or operatives to con­duct, monitor and supervise the forthcoming legislative rerun elec­tions in Rivers State on March 19, 2016.”

The court however adjourned till March 24, 2016, for hearing on the substantive application.

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