Police Gunshots, Hoodlums Stop Protest at Rivers APC Aspirants’ Screening

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

Hoodlums and sporadic gunshots from police operatives on Wednesday, stopped an ongoing protest by Some aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, alleging denial to participate in the supposed screening exercise for State House of Assembly aspirants.

The placard carrying members who are mostly loyalists of Senator Magnus Abe accused the former Minister of Transportation and Presidential aspirant, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of trying to influence the screening process for his choice of aspirants.

The peaceful protest which started at about 9am at the party state security on Woji Road, GRA, Port Harcourt, when the aggrieved members insisted that the gate to the secretariat halls must be opened and a gunshot was released from inside the premises.

THISDAY gathered at the scene of the protest that even when there were security operatives ensuring peaceful process of the protest, aggrieved party members could not but started throwing stones at the premises to express their displeasure on the gunshots by undisclosed security personnel from the party premises.

Following the rowdy environment which senior police officers were trying to calm and sustain a peaceful environment, hoodlums suspected to be cultists invaded the scene and started attacking every individual noticed in front of the secretariat.

THISDAY observed that the action by the hoodlums attracted re-enforcement of more tactical security operatives and there was serious sporadic gunshots which made journalists covering the protest, aggrieved members of the party, including the suspected cultists to scamper for life.

As at the time of filing this report, THISDAY at the scene of the crisis reported that though many persons were injured by the hoodlums, some lost their valuables in the incident but no life was lost

Earlier, a female aspirant seeking the seat of Etche Constituency I at the state House Assembly, Uloma Onyeche, lamented that she was denied access for the screening after purchasing her form to contest.

“We are here today for a Congress that I do not understand. The chairman has been compromised, Dr Adoje Omale, that one of us got his number and called him, he was furious. A man who is coming to conduct congresses, who is not supposed to be biased.

“We are reliably informed that the chairman has moved the materials. We saw him with Mr. Asita O. Asita, a Senatorial candidate, how come the man who is supposed to be unbiased is bias.

“We are Rivers people, they are doing the bid of their master, we have suffered enough. I am a woman who laboured to make my money that you take last time without any result, here we are again, paid our money to APC and Amaechi thinks instead of building Rivers State, is to pull down the state”.

Another aspirant, Chikwe Orlu, Obio/Akpor Constituency 2, said “We heard that one man called Victor Giadom under the directive of former Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi has asked him to hijack the chairman and secretary that is supposed to be here to attend and address us and tell us their modus of operation and how the elections are supposed to be but till now we have not seen any sign”.

Dr. Anosike Oduwa Joseph, aspirant for state Assembly, lamented that he spent money to buy the forms. “The national chairman of our party should do things differently like other chairmen without fear or favour. APC is a party for everybody, is not a personal property.

“Because I have invested my hard earn money to buy this form, I will resist any injustice, we will resist it. You cannot defraud and deprive us from our right. We will resist every power that want to stop the majority from contesting election, we will resist impunity, every power to will want want.”

Meanwhile, the leadership of the APC in the State has saud they are yet to understand the group protesting and the purpose of the protest at the state party secretariat.

The State Publicity Secretary of APC, Chris Finebone who spoke with THISDAY said as for the party congress, it is holding at the various wards and local government Areas of the state and not at the secretariat.

FINEBONE said materials for the congresses have also been sent to the various wards and local government areas were the exercise will be conducted but promised that the party executive will address those gathered at the party secretariat when identified with their leaders.

“Screening is for 2pm and is just for State Assembly aspirants. It has nothing to do with the ward or Local Government Area Congress.

“We were supposed to hold a stakeholders meeting which will proceed the meeting by 2pm. If they have made it impossible for stakeholders meeting to hold, the world won’t come to an end.

“If they want to talk about the ward congresses, the ward congresses will not be held here, materials have gone to all the 319 ward and exercise may have started in some of them now as we speak.

“They have no business with the screening which is a separate matter entirely. Many of them do not know why they were here because they were hired to come and disrupt something here, exactly the same way they did in 2018, 2019”, Finebone added.

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