THE political atmosphere in Rivers State over the rerun election became tensed on Thursday, December 8, as leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, stormed Port Harcourt, capital city, and called on their party members to prepare for war over Saturday, December 10 rerun election.
John Odigie-Oyegun, national chairman of the APC, during the party’s rally held at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Port Harcourt, said that the full might of the federal government had been deployed to the state for the elections. Odigie-Oyegun, therefore, urged the APC supporters to retaliate any act of violence meted out to them.
He said: “he entire federal might has heard your cry. There is only one thing; we respect Rivers people. Enough is enough! If they push you, push them. We are on a rescue mission. This state will be rescued.”
Indeed, at the rally were 12 APC state governors, ministers, members of the National Assembly and other party chieftains.
Governor Mohammed Ganduje of Kano State told the APC members not to fail to retaliate if they were attacked by members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the elections.
In a similar message, Chibuike Amaechi, a former governor of the state and now, minister of Transportation, said: “This is what is called election of our lives. You know I have never spoken like this before. Do not kill anybody, but don’t allow yourselves to be killed. We also have to protect ourselves. I don’t want to hear that they took over the ballot sheet from you. If they snatch it, collect it back from them. My phone will be switched off. Nobody should call me. The only time you will call me is from 6pm when you would have won the election.”
In its reaction, the state government condemned the leadership of the APC for allegedly inciting people into violence. Austin Tam-George, state commissioner for information and Communication, lamented what he described as the manifest act of incitement by Governor Ganduje and others.
According to the commissioner, Ganduje has charged the APC supporters to resort to violence by saying: “If they shoot you, take cover and shoot them. This is a shameful and egregious invitation to violence by the Kano State governor.” He, therefore, called on the inspector general of Police to immediately ensure that Gandoje leaves Rivers State to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Also, a coalition of more than 70 civil society groups who are in the state to monitor the elections said they were gravely concerned that the major political parties had repeated the practice of making incendiary allegations as well as direct and indirect threats ahead of the poll.
— Dec 19, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT