Paul Obiajunwo, PortHarcourt
While members of All Progressive Congress (APC) in Rivers State were planning a rally to seek justice for those murdered before, during and after 2015 general election in the state, ‘blood seekers’ were busy planning to add more souls to their list.
Over 60 supporters escaped death when the buses conveying them to the venue of the Black Day rally held yesterday at Polo Club, Evo Road GRA Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, was attacked and burnt by unknown gunmen.
The Post learnt that scores were injured but nobody was killed.
Those attacked includes; supporters from Omuma, Etche, Eleme, Degema, Gokana Asari-Toru and Akuku-Toru local government areas. At Akuku-Toru, the APC supporters in the area allegedly accused PDP Caretaker committee chairman, Hon. Ronald Sekibo of mobilizing 1000 thugs to stop them from attending the rally.
The rally which was described by party members as, a solemn peaceful protest was attended by party chieftains, supporters from the 23 local government areas of the state, the civil society groups and community leaders.
Some of the party chieftains at the venue of the rally were ; APC governorship candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Party Chairman, Dr.
Davies Ibiamu Ikaya, Chief Andrew Uchendu, Senator Magnus Abe, Hon. Dawari George, Hon. Lucky Worluh etc.
APC supporters got to the party secretariat as early as 7:am and by 8:30 am, the party governorship candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside arrived and led the long procession walk from Party Secretariat at old GRA to Polo club.
Families of these slain victims of 2015 general election in the state took time to give account of how their loved ones were killed. Some men of God who were at the rally also prayed for them and the souls of their departed ones.
Some of the family members who spoke in tears at the rally called on President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit the report of Prof. Odinkalu commission of enquiry and to ensure that he brings the perpetrators to book.
Mr. Goodluck Unchendu, brother to late Chima Uchendu said his brother was shot to death because of his strong support to APC in his local government. He called on the party and President Buhari to assist the family of his late brother who he said left six children behind.
Mrs. Orukwowu, the wife of late Cleaver Orukwowu, APC youth leader in Ogba/Ebema/Ndoni Local government said those who murdered her husband killed an important thing in her life. She vowed not to forgive his killers. She called on President Buhari to assist his family by ensuring that those who killed the husband were brought to book.
The Party Chairman Dr, Davies Ikanya Ibiamu who gave the opening remark said, “Today is a special day, we set out today to honour those killed before, during and after election. We are calling on the Federal government to look the report of commission of enquiry headed by Prof. Chidi Odinkalu.
“After that revealing report, nobody has been arrested and today more crimes are being committed with impunity. This is not the Rivers State of our dreams; the only way for the victims of 2015 general election to
have peace is to bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to book.”
Hon. Fineman Olungwe and Hon. Lucky Worluh who led APC Local government elected chairmen into the venue of the rally said they are happy that despite the attack on party supporters no lives were lost. They called on the Inspector General Police to consider Rivers State as one of the unsafe states.
Dr. Dakuku Peterside who personally prayed for the relatives of victims said the attacked on his supporters shows how desperate some politicians could be to get power and relevance. He said the rally is to mourn and to celebrate those whose lives were cut short by the inexplicable violence that characterized the general elections in Rivers state
Peterside said: we hope your experiences might be extrapolated for the greater good of deepening democratic ideals. For the passive observers who are here out of curiosity we hope that you will end up taking deeper interest in the war against political violence.
“We are gathered here for a purpose that is paradoxical. It is violence that has continued till today, merely mutating and transforming from attacks before and during the general elections, now we suffer kidnappings, armed robberies and assassinations by persons who are yet to be dispossessed of the guns with which they were “empowered”.
“ Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends were attacked and killed in their own homes in cold blood because of their political leanings. Some were attacked and killed while they were on their way to attend campaign rallies. Our campaign venues were victims of explosive devices and outright attacks by gunmen. These were intimations of more unpleasant scenarios.
“On election day ordinary citizens who wished to cast their votes as enshrined in the statues of our land were killed or maimed by trigger-happy and dagger wielding political thugs and mercenaries. In some cases at polling units elderly persons were beaten until their hearts literally stopped beating.
“Our brothers and sisters died because some politicians who were consumed with vaulting and inordinate ambition engaged in horse trading. More than 100 innocent persons were killed, victims of these evil acts of desperate politicians. You have heard chilling stories from their families but for the sensitivity of our sensibilities I wish to recant that narrative here.
“Unfortunately till date not a single person has been prosecuted for these crimes against humanity. Brothers and sisters we are here to commemorate the memories of these victims of political violence.
“For us they were not just victims but martyrs, they constitute the ’strong breed’ who have taken our collective burden to ensure the survival of democracy particularly in Rivers State and Nigeria in general. It would be callous of us not to remember and celebrate their sacrificial but untimely deaths.
We have recognized that at all times and in all situations we are “Greater Together”. Hence today together we stand to say No to any form of political intimidation and violence in our land. Brothers and sisters, welcome to Rivers Black Day, a day dedicated to the memories of more than 100 persons who were killed.”