Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has said the statement by the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the on-going fact-finding mission by the House of Representatives Committee on Army on the unjustifiable killing of innocent persons in Ogoni communities before and during the March 19 rerun elections was an admittance that it actually deployed soldiers to the area and the entire state to do everything to deliver its candidates in the elections.
The state Chairman of the APC, Dr. Davies Ikanya, had in a statement yesterday said: “Having painstakingly observed and reviewed the visit of the House of Representatives Committee on Army to Rivers State, the Rivers State Chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) has justifiably concluded that the entire exercise was contrived and sponsored by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, for the purpose of blackmailing and stampeding the Nigerian Army out of Ogoniland before the conclusion of the outstanding rerun elections process in Rivers South East Senatorial zone.”
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt, the state Chairman of the PDP, Felix Obuah, said it was unfortunate that the APC was averse to a process that would give justice to the people of Ogoni, “who have been made to suffer undue abuses, and killed for no just cause.”
He said rather than face the real issues and facts already revealed at the public hearing by the Committee in Port Harcourt on Monday, which indicted the Nigerian Army and some APC candidates, the APC was only making efforts to cover them up and distort the revelations by witnesses and members of victims’ families.
He said: “The APC is only wasting its time making frivolous claims and blackmailing the governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, over a well-intended undertaking by the National Assembly.
“However, if the governor would prefer sponsoring a course of justice for the people, that to us, is a welcome development.
But we would like to place on record that neither the governor nor the PDP-led government in the state is involved in any move to blackmail the army out of Ogoniland as alleged by the APC.
“We would continue to co-operate with all arms and government institutions at all levels on a genuine mission to achieve justice, peace and security in our State and the nation.
“We therefore wish to state that we owe no apology to Ikanya and the APC, if providing the National Assembly committee conducive environment and space to carry out its legitimate assignment in the State is considered as a means of stampeding the Nigerian Army out of Ogoniland before the conclusion of the outstanding rerun elections process in the area.
“Our understanding of the fact-finding mission of the National Assembly Committee on Army was to ensure justice rules over injustice and to reassure the affected people that the government still upholds its constitutional function of protection of lives and properties of the citizenry; the Ogoni not an exception.”
He stated that while he agreed with the APC that both the House of Representatives and the army should endeavour to carry out their constitutional responsibilities, such should be done with utmost regard for the fundamental rights of defenceless citizens.
“When did it become wrong for a sitting governor to host or welcome members or representatives of government institutions and National Assembly committees on a fact- finding mission in the state? And why has the APC not considered the lives of innocent Ogoni indigenes and residents wasted in the unwarranted military raid in Ogoni communities important?,” he queried.