It was another orgy of violence in Rivers State on Thursday as operatives of the State Police Command dispersed protesting members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
The APC members had the first encounter with the security agents when they headed for the premises of the Rivers State House of Assembly to press for the swearing-in of its party candidates, Mrs. Victoria Nyeche and Mr. Andrew Miller, as lawmakers.
The protesters, numbering over 300 carried placards with inscriptions such as: “Rivers State House of Assembly stop being appendage of the Executive arm; Rivers Assembly swear in our candidates; APC candidates must be sworn into the Assembly”.
They were led by the APC State Secretary, Mr. Emeka Bekee.
The protest was however disrupted along Bank Road when the police stopped their further move to the Assembly Complex.
Bekee told newsmen at the scene of incident that they were barred by the police and demanded the immediate swearing-in of the APC candidates.
He said that the protest was organised for Nigerians to know the level of intimidation of the party members who won the Assembly positions in their constituencies.
He said: “We were told that the governor wants to visit the Assembly today. That is to tell you that the governor knows what he is doing and the APC will not accept it.”
Coincidentally, supporters of the PDP led by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, also led a solidarity rally to the Assembly.
The procession was also disrupted by the police who insisted that the protests must not go on to avoid crisis.
Nwanosike, who also spoke to journalists said, that “what happened can never be a coincidence; every human being has his programme and policies. How would we have known that the APC has a protest today?
“The PDP members wrote to the party chairman informing him that we want to pay a courtesy visit to the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly and we approached our various local government chairmen who agreed that they will accompany us on the visit.
“But on our way to the Assembly we saw fierce-looking police officers who attacked us with live ammunition and teargas. You can see our wounded members. As I am talking to you some of members are in critical conditions in various hospitals in the state.
“We thank God Almighty that He gave us the grace, resilience and tenacity to stand the test of this pressure from the Nigeria Police, who are supposed to protect us. We want to say that Mr. President who is the father of all should call for an investigation of the police action. In a democratic setting, we are supposed to be given the right to speak, associate and a right to assemble together but we were being intimidated for no just cause,” he lamented.
The State Command Public Relations Officer, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, declined comment on the matter.
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