The Police and All Progressives Congress APC in Rivers have differed sharply on what actually happened at the Rumuwoji community playground (Ojukwu field) venue of the APC governorship rally on Thursday.
Independent reports have it that there was an explosion and gunshots at the venue of the rally which injured not less than three persons at the place during the rally.
The reports claimed that the explosion must have been from an improvised explosive device IED or dynamite.
But the state police command came up with the report that no explosion happened but that there was only a minor fracas between two factions of the Rumuwoji community.
A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer PPRO of the command, SP Grace Iringe-Koko, has it that the community factions were fighting over the N200,000 rent paid by the APC for the use of the venue.
Part of the PPRO’s statement reads; “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.
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“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 factionalised into two; not divided on political party lines, but rather factionalised as a result of Chieftaincy tussle. The fracas was defined in these lines.”
Meanwhile, members of the public are enjoined 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”.
But the APC, Friday morning, staged a press conference to counter the police claims and give its side of the story.
The party insisted that its campaign rally was deliberately attacked by supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP.
Spokesperson Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council, Sogbeye Eli, at the press conference accused those he called thugs working for the faction of the People’s Democratic Party loyal to Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State” as attacking 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.
“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,” he stated.