UPDATE: Police deny shooting Senator Magnus Abe

Magnus Abe in hospital bed
Magnus Abe on hospital bed

There are counter claims about whether the Senator was shot or not

The Rivers State police command has denied shooting Magnus Abe, a senator from Rivers state who was reportedly hit by officers dispersing a political rally in Port Harcourt Sunday.

A police spokesperson called the reports “a blatant lie.”

At Krisany Hospital where Mr. Abe was rushed to for treatment, the medical director of the hospital, Dr Mckay Anyanwu, told newsmen that the senator was brought to the hospital in a state of shock caused by low blood pressure.

“He was unable to talk or eat, and he was feeling restless as a result of traumatic shock,” he was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, as saying. “The implication is that there is haemorrhage; this is a blood trauma, it is not a sharp one.”

He suggested Mr. Abe may have been struck by a rubber bullet.

“There is a history of an impact; a blunt impact on the left chest wall. Now there might be bleeding internally because if you watch the chest wall; the affected wall is larger than the right side,” he said.

The Rivers state government said Mr. Abe was hit by a rubber bullet fired by the police and was admitted for treatment. Tony Okocha, the Chief of Staff to the Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, was also reportedly injured in the attack.

Both men were attending a rally by a nongovernmental organization, Save Rivers Movement, at the Rivers State College of Arts and Science.

The Rivers State commissioner of information, Ibim Semenitari, said the attack was targeted at Mr. Amaechi and may have been in demonstration of recent claims that President Goodluck Jonathan, embroiled in a longstanding feud with Mr. Amaechi, was training snipers ahead of the 2015 elections.

“The Rivers State government has it on good authority that Senator Abe took the bullet originally meant for Governor Chibuike Amaechi who was billed to be present at the event,” Ms. Semenitari said in a statement. “This is disconcerting especially in the light of recent revelations that the presidency may be training snipers ahead of the 2015 elections and that Governor Amaechi is top on the list of those to be eliminated.”

The state government called for redeployment of the Rivers State police chief, Mathew Mbu.

But a spokesperson for the state police command, Ahmad Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES that reports about the police using maximum force to disperse the rally were untrue and misleading.

“For anybody to say that Senator Magnus Abe was shot at is a blatant lie and a misleading statement,” Mr. Muhammad said.

He said the police used “minimum force” to disperse the rally and did not expend a single bullet.

“We used minimum force to disperse them and not even a single ammunition was shot. I repeat it; not a single ammunition was expended,” he said.

Mr. Muhammad said the Save Rivers Movement flouted an existing ban on political rallies in the state and refused to seek approval before staging one.

“This same group knows about the ban which still in full force. During the launch of their group last year, they informed the police and they were given adequate security in Elekahia then. How come did they decided to carry out a rally without informing the police today?” he queried.

But an aide to Mr. Abe, Honour Sirawoo, insisted the lawmaker was hit by a rubber bullet fired by the police. He said the bullet hit Mr. Abe on the chest and was taken to hospital for treatment, NAN reported.

He said the Senator had gone to supervise preparations for the rally when he was attacked at about 9.00 am on Sunday.

Editor’s Note: This post has been revised with additional details of Mr. Abe’s condition as provided by his doctor.

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