Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State, southern Nigeria, has declared a week of mourning for nine of its members who were killed in two separate incidents in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Saturday night.
The party in a statement said while five of the men were killed in the D-Line area of Port Harcourt, the other four met their untimely death along the Eastern By-Pass in the Marine Base area of the state capital.
“Rivers APC condemns the killing of these innocent men without reservations. That only APC members were targeted in the two incidents indicates that these are politically motivated murders targeted at reducing our membership strength ahead of the 2015 elections,” Rivers APC Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, said in a statement issued Tuesday in Port Harcourt.
The party challenged the law enforcement agencies to rise to the occasion and apprehend and bring the culprits to book.
The party chairman said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the death of these innocent men and regard them as martyrs of our nascent democracy. We wish to assure those they have left behind that these party faithful will be celebrated and mourned accordingly. Their deaths will strengthen us the more to ensure that evil men are not allowed to govern our state again.”
Ikanya directed APC members throughout the state to use this Sunday, 15th March, to pray for the repose of their souls in their various churches.
“We owe them this honour even as we strive to honour them the more by ensuring that their dream of landslide victory for our great party in the forthcoming general elections is realised,” he said.
Dr. Ikanya cautioned the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and its supporters to eschew violence as no amount of violence and intimidation will save the party from being disgraced during the March 28 and April 11 general elections in the state.
He called one friends and the international community “to always remember the party in their prayers as both our candidate, Dr Dakuku Adol Peterside and all APC Chieftains are all targets for elimination by the newly assembled PDP Killer Squad.”
Meanwhile, members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Rivers State could not take the threat to their lives as they discharge their lawful duties in the state lying low anymore.
They staged a peaceful protest in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital over the state of insecurity ahead of the forthcoming general elections and the unwarranted attacks on them in the state.
The journalists, who carried placards with various inscriptions, took off from the NUJ temporary secretariat, located within the premises of the Nigeria Newspaper Corporation, in Port Harcourt, and marched to the Government House, Port Harcourt and later to the State Police Command Headquarters at Moscow Road, Port Harcourt, to deliver their message.
Some of the placards read: “Journalists in Rivers State say enough is enough to insecurity and election related violence”; “We are tired of Violent Politics”; “Allow journalists perform their constitutional functions”, “When you kill journalists, you kill society”; “Toy with journalists, toy with the future of the nation”; “Journalism is a constitutionally recognised profession”; “Rivers Journalists may be forced to boycott polls coverage if…”
Speaking at Government House, Port Harcourt, chairman of NUJ in the state, Mr. Opaka Dokubo, said while journalists have a constitutional role to play in society, they must be given the desired environment to perform their duties.
“We are here at Government House gate and the reason we are here is the fact that for us as journalists we are worried about the state of insecurity, especially in this state. Election is all over the country but in Rivers State it is taking a different dimension.
“We have to protest to government because government’s first responsibility is the protection of lives and property and the way things are going, those who chronicle the stories every day have found that gradually, Rivers State is sliding to a very serious state of insecurity and we are not happy about it,” he said.
He requested that whatever that is necessary to do to stem this tide, the government should please do it.
“We have not come for political reasons; we have come to talk with government. It is a security matter and we are engaging the security as well. There is no way we talk about security in the state without first and foremost coming to government.
“We have also been victims as well; we need as much protection and secured routine as every other citizen of this state and of this country. We know we have a very big role to play as far as this situation is concerned and we are prepared to play our constitutional role but we cannot do that in the kind of atmosphere we have found ourselves. So we are pleading with government and security agents to take charge of the situation we have found ourselves,” he added.
Responding on behalf of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Permanent Secretary, Government House, Port Harcourt, Mr. Oguru Fortune Oguru, assured journalists that government was doing everything within its powers to ensure that peace reigns in the state.
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