Suspected thugs have attacked and disrupted a gathering of the All Progressives Congress in Obudu, Cross River State, where a stalwart of the party, Venatius Ikem, was billed to announce his intention to run for the governorship of the state in 2019.
Mr. Ikem is from Obudu, where the Governor of the state, Ben Ayade also comes from.
The thugs, said to be loyalists of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, vandalised the APC secretariat, which was the venue of the gathering.
They destroyed the party’s billboards, canopies, chairs, and public address system.
The APC supporters were chased out of the venue.
The incident was said to have happened around 12 pm Friday.
Mr. Ikem told PREMIUM TIMES that the thugs came back a second time when the APC leaders and the party’s supporters went back to continue with the event.
“Immediately we got there again and entered the secretariat and started chanting the party slogan so that we could start the programme, they came back. Apparently, they were monitoring us. They started attacking us again,” said Mr. Ikem.
“They broke all the glasses and everything they could see in the party secretariat. They beat up people. Several people were taken to hospital.”
Mr. Ikem said the police initially refused to grant their request for security, but that the police came and parked their vehicle across the road when the thugs invaded the APC office a second time.
He said the police clashed with the thugs.
Mr. Ikem said he eventually retreated to a private residence around the area to declare his governorship ambition.
“We can identify those who led the attack,” Mr. Ikem said.
“They were not masked, they are our town’s boys. Many of them are appointees of the governor. We have their names. In fact, we have a video of what happened.”
The Chairman of APC in Obudu, Ugbelishor Mathias, corroborated Mr. Ikem’s claims. He said he had advised the party supporters not to attack back in order to avoid the escalation of violence.
The Chairman of APC in Abi Local Government Area, Romanus Egbonyi, was among those wounded in the attack.
Mr. Egbonyi condemned the attack as being unfair to the APC which he said has been law-abiding in the state.
“I want to say that this will not deter us at all. We all came here to witness the formal declaration of Barr Venatius Ikem and got attacked as you all have witnessed.
“If the powers that be in the state are confident of themselves, why do they have to descend so low to attack us in our own premises?” he said.
The Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in Obudu, confirmed the attack.
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