Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Barely three days after the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) held a successful annual general conference in Port Harcourt, a human rights activist and lawyer to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ken Atsuwete, has been murdered by yet-to-be-identified gunmen.
THISDAY gathered that Atsuwete was abducted by the gunmen from his residence at Aluu, Aluu Community, close to the University of Port Harcourt at about 5a.m., before being shot and dumped in a nearby drain.
A source in the community said Atsuwete could have survived if help came his way as at the time he was shot and dumped in the drainage.
The source said: “If help had come as at the time he was shouting for help, he would have survived. Due to the security situation in Aluu, nobody was brave enough to come out to assist him when he was screaming for help. He eventually gave up the ghost few minutes after he introduced his name as Ken Atsuwete and people cane to his aid.”
The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Omoni Nnamdi, confirmed the incident, but said he was yet to get details.
Reacting to the incident, the APC in a statement issued in Port Harcourt by its spokesman, Chris Finebone, insisted that the murder of Atsuwete was politically-motivated and called on the Inspector-General of Police, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) to ensure that they unravel those behind the heinous crime.
The statement reads in part: “We of the APC have been labelled as prophets of doom for telling the world that the Wike government in Rivers State is the architect of the insecurity that is ravaging the state. They stage-managed private conferences at huge cost to the Rivers taxpayer just to show that there is peace in the state.
“Just a few days ago, the NBA held its 56th annual conference here in Port Harcourt at a humongous cost to the taxpayer. This morning, a very energetic, promising and vocal member of the NBA and popular human rights lawyer. Ken Atswete was gunned down in his home by assassins.
“They first of all took someone in the same building last night and realising they had a wrong customer, they let the fellow go while they returned at about 5a.m. to snuff life out of Atswete. The APC believes that this killing was politically-motivated because, Atswete was a leading counsel to APC chieftain, Hon. Ojukaye Flag-Amachree who is being persecuted by the Wike administration in Rivers State.
“We call on the Commissioner of Police, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) to leave no stones unturned in unraveling the criminals behind this dastardly act. This is one killing too many.”
The governorship candidate of the APC in the last election and Managing Director of Nigerian Maritime and Safety Management Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, also described the killing as barbaric and gruesome.
In a statement he issued in Port Harcourt, Peterside said: “I condemn in strongest term the barbaric, nasty and heinous assassination of Atsuwete. This is perhaps the deadliest of several politically-motivated killings perpetrated in Rivers State in recent times.
“Atsuwete was a prominent human rights activist, political commentator, fiery critic of bad governance, citizen activist and most recently lawyer to Flag-Amachree, the APC leader held for trumped-up charges.
“Without any doubt, the killers of Atsuwete were driven by the insidious objective of instilling fear in the rank of the opposition, silence every voice of reason and stifle opposition in Rivers State. The killing of Atsuwete is perhaps the height of impunity which is now an everyday way of life in my home state of Rivers.”
He called on the IG, Director-General of DSS and other national security authorities to carry out extensive investigation of this awful incident, bring the perpetrators to book and restore sanity to our dear state.