RALLY: POLICE, APC DISAGREE ON PORT HARCOURT EXPLOSION
The alleged explosion that rocked Rumuwoji played otherwise called (Ojukwu field), venue for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship rally in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital on Thursday is now a cause for controversy.
BraveViews can report that the Police and the APC in the State have differed on whether or not an explosion occurred and if so, the actual cause of the explosion.
Reports have it that there was an explosion and gunshots at the venue of the rally, which injured at least three persons during the rally.
At the time of filing this report, our correspondent could not establish if the explosion must have been from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or a dynamite.
Speaking on this, the Rivers State Police Command, in a statement said that there was no explosion at the venue of the APC rally in Port Harcourt, noting that there was only a minor fracas between two factions of the Rumuwoji community over issues relating to chieftaincy tussle.
The State Command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP GRACE IRINGE-KOKO said the community factions fought over N200,000 rent paid by the APC for the use of the venue.
The governor of the State, NYESOM WIKE while speaking at a PDP governorship rally at Oyigbo Local Government Area also blamed the fracas on the Rumuwoji community.
The statement reads in parts: “Today, 19th of January 2023, the All Progressive Congress (APC) had an open rally at Rumuwoji community town hall/playground in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“Before the commencement of the rally, the internal crisis within the community over which faction should control the community playing ground/town hall reared its ugly head. It was alleged that the CDC Chairman collected the sum of two hundred thousand naira (N200,000.00) from APC as payment for renting the playground/town hall.
“Incidentally, he shared the money to only the Chiefs and members of his faction. The other faction that didn’t benefit from the sharing insisted that the hall would not be used, except and until they were given their share of the money.
“Consequently, a fracas ensued; two persons were reportedly injured.
“The fracas was not between members of APC and any other political party but between the internal factions within the said community.
“The DC Operations, Area Commander Port Harcourt, the O/C SIB and DPO Mile 1 Diobu were on ground to intervene and restore peace and security at the venue. Thus, the fracas did not affect the APC rally, which ended peacefully.
“There was no explosion before or during the rally.
“However, the Commissioner of Police has directed the DC State CID and O/C Bomb Disposal Unit to investigate and confirm the veracity of the rumour currently making the rounds on social media.
“It should be noted that Rumuwoji community is factionalized into two; not divided on political party lines but rather factionalized as a result of chieftaincy tussle. The fracas was defined in these lines”.
The statement enjoined members of the public to go about their lawful businesses and maintain peace.
The Command reiterates that it is committed to “protecting life and property of all residents in Rivers State”.
Earlier, the APC had insisted that there was an explosion during its rally on Thursday.
Spokesperson of the Rivers APC, DARLINTON NWAUJU, who confirmed the development said six supporters of the party were affected in the explosion.
The APC went ahead to accuse the chairman and former chairman of PHALGA, ALLWELL IHUNDA and VICTOR IHUNWO of leading some political thugs to the venue of the rally to disrupt the programme.
Addressing Journalists on Friday in a press conference, the Rivers APC Governorship Campaign Council countered the claims of the Police.
The party insisted that its campaign rally was deliberately attacked by supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
Spokesperson of the Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council, SOGBEYE ELI, accused those he described as thugs working for the faction of the People’s Democratic Party, who are loyal to Governor NYESOM WIKE as those, who attacked the APC campaign rally.
“This unprovoked attack on our party’s campaign with shots of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) by armed thugs occurred at the commencement of the rally at the traditional grounds of Rumuwoji Town in Mile 1, Port Harcourt City Local Government Area”.
SOGBEYE ELI contended that: “We wish to state unequivocally, no part, Section or paragraph of WIKE’s obnoxious Executive Orders 21 and 22, which subjects political campaigns in Rivers State by opposition parties to strangulation prohibits the use of traditional squares or grounds in our towns and villages”.