The simmering internal wrangling in the Rivers State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Sunday afternoon blew open with the alleged arrest at the orders of the state governor, Nyesom Wike, of at least 35 members of the party believed to belong to the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s faction.
A group, the Atiku Support Organisation, has alleged that about 30 of its members were arrested by armed policemen during a meeting in GRA, Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Sunday afternoon.
Before yesterday’s incident, governor Wike had accused the National Secretariat of the party and supporters of Atiku in Rivers State, who he refers to Abuja, people as engaging in “Anti-Party Activities,” vowing to deal with them.
The National Secretariat of the PDP had ordered the taking over of all the cases between the party and other parties in Rivers and withdrew from some of them.
So the alleged arrest of the 30 Pro-Atiku members of the party Sunday afternoon is considered as the response of the governor to the anti-party of the Atiku group.
Making public the arrest Sunday, the National Publicity Secretary of Atiku Support Organization, ASO, Victor Moses, disclosed that the people were arrested at about 2 pm by armed police officers in about six Toyota Hilux marked Intelligence Unit and acting on the instruction of the governor Wike around a place called White House in Omerelu Street, by Salvation Ministries Headquarters, G.R.A., Port Harcourt.
In the statement titled ‘Release Our Members Now, Atiku Support Organisation tells Gov Wike, ‘ Moses said the meeting was part of preparations for the Peoples Democratic Party presidential rally slated to hold on February 11.
He said some of those arrested were state and local government leaders of the organization, alleging that the officers may have acted on the instructions of the state governor, Nyesom Wike.
The statement read in part, “Earlier today, Sunday, at about 2 pm, armed police officers in about six Toyota Hilux marked Intelligence Unit and acting on the instruction of the Rivers State Governor around plot No 3 popularly called White House in Omerelu Street, by Salvation Ministries Headquarters, G.R.A., Port Harcourt, where state and local government leaders of the Atiku Support Organisation were holding meetings as part of the preparations for the Peoples Democratic Party presidential rally slated to be held on February 11, 2023.
“Realising the armed men were sent to stop the meeting, some members escaped through the fence, sustaining wounds caused by barbed wires.
“Over 30 of our members, state and LGA leaders, most of whom are women, were arrested and taken away in two white Hilux of the intelligence unit, while about four Hilux heavily armed with police have sealed up the meeting venue. No 3 Omerelu Street, GRA, is directly behind the Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt.”
The statement added that none of the phone numbers of those allegedly arrested was connecting.
The group called on Governor Wike to immediately release its members, demanding that Wike end “his do-or-die politics of bitterness and stop instigating violence in Rivers State against Atiku Abubakar’s supporters.”
It also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to order the release of its members and put an end to what it called “political rascality” in Rivers State and “to avert Governor Wike’s instigated bloodbath in the state during the election,” adding that “Rivers people should and must be allowed to make their political choices freely.”
When contacted, the spokesman for the state police command, Grace Iringe-Koko, said she had yet to receive such a report.