By Ernest ChinwoÂ in Port Harcourt
Preparations for todayâ€™s ward congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State were yesterday greeted with violence and protests as youth suspected to be members of the party stormed and looted the state secretariat located at the Old GRA, Port Harcourt.
THISDAY gathered that the uprising which started as a protest against perceived hijack of the congress process by a faction of the party degenerated into looting of the secretariat after the state executives of the party escaped from the secretariat for fear of being lynched.
The Publicity Secretary of Rivers State chapter of the APC, Chris Finebone, expressed dissatisfaction with the situation and said the police had made arrests, including Member Representing Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency, Chidi Wihioka.
He said, “The destruction you see here tells the story of what happened. The police have held some persons including Chidi Wihioka, a federal lawmaker”
He said the entire office has been looted of computers, air conditioners, flags, furniture and documents.
â€œYou can see the windows shattered. The only thing they failed to do was burn the place down. They brought a drum of diesel for the purpose but the police stopped them,â€ Finebone said.
The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nnamdi Omoni (DSP), who was at the scene of the incident declined comment, appealing that he needed clearance from his boss before offering a statement.
Meanwhile as at the time of filing this report, THISDAY reliably gathered that a faction of the party was meeting at a location in the metropolis to finalise plans for the congresses.
Reacting to the incident, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and military personnel were used to cause rancour ahead of the APC Congress in the state, adding that the development had vindicated him.
He stated that the series of statements released by APC stakeholders on the illegal activities of SARS personnel in the course of their forthcoming congress should draw the attention of all lovers of democracy.Â
Â He condoled with families that lost their loved ones during the fracas and admonished the party that seeking elective offices should not be a do or die affair.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the retired military and para-military officers of Ogoni extraction at the Government House Port Harcourt yesterday, Wike said if security agencies could be negatively used during a party congress, Nigerians should expect electoral mischief, masterminded by security agencies in 2019.Â
Â He said: “In an ordinary party congress, over a platoon of soldiers and more than 200 SARS personnel have been handed over to one man. If these operatives protect just one man, other communities are left without protection.Â
Â “Even SARS Commander Akin Fakorede is operating without check because he has the support of the Police High Command.â€Â
He said conflicts during elections are generated by overzealous security agents detailed to manipulate the process.Â
The governor urged the retired military and paramilitary senior officers to use their contacts in the military to prevail on them to respect the rule of law in a democracy.Â
He stated that his administration would continue to invest in the promotion of security of lives and property across the state.Â
He thanked the retired military and paramilitary senior officers of Ogoni extraction for their desire to contribute to the development of the state and urged other leaders to emulate them.
Leader of the Retired Military and Paramilitary Officers of Ogoni Extraction, Rear Admiral John Nicholas Bakpo, thanked Wike for infrastructural development of Ogoni communities.Â
He said as retired military and paramilitary senior officers, they were willing to offer their services for the security of Ogoni land.