The All Progressives Congress in Rivers State has accused the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, of orchestrating the shootings at the party’s rally where a policeman was killed and many others injured in her Okirika hometown.
The party’s gubernatorial candidate, Dakuku Peterside, made the allegation in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Mr. Peterside noted that rally started on a peaceful note with his campaign team paying courtesy visits to Okirika Grammar School; his alma mater as well as the traditional ruler of Ogoloma.
While at the palace of the monarch, he said report got to him that three explosives had been detonated at the National School field, venue of his party’s gubernatorial rally.
According to him, two of the explosives ripped off parts of the roof of the school building prompting party faithful to immediately call in security personnel and the anti bomb squad to comb the area.
“It is important to note that several other explosives were found by the team and normalcy was restored,” Mr. Peterside said.
“We proceeded from the Amanyanabo to see the Bishop of Okrika Diocese, Anglican Communion Rt. Rev. T Abere who prayed with the team at about 1:30 pm.”
Recounting how the rally was finally disrupted, Mr. Peterside continued, “From the Bishop’s court, we headed to the venue and the rally began in earnest with prayers and praise and worship.
“A few persons gave solidarity speeches and while one of our leaders in Okirika, Mr D.D Alabere was speaking, we started hearing sporadic gunshots from the back of the school and from the Okrika cemetery.
“Several eyewitnesses saw a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Evans Bipi who doubles as a personal assistant to the wife of the President, Mrs Patience Jonathan accompanied by men in police uniform and several other non uniformed armed men numbering in excess of 50 around the venue.
“He was seen personally directing the shooting. Mrs. Jonathan is a native of Okrika and had just spent the weekend in Okirika where she said she had gone to rest.”
He said the shooting lasted for about an hour leading to the killing of a police officer while several persons sustained injuries including Charles Eruka of Channels Television, who was stabbed.
He said, “Five police officers were shot one of them is dead and four are laying in critical condition in the hospital.
“One policeman is yet to be accounted for. Some other APC supporters are still missing as at the time of this press statement while equipment at the venue have been set ablaze and several cars including three police vehicles were destroyed. We understand that there are still threats to burn houses of APC supporters in Okrika.”
Mr. Peterside commended the resilience of the people of Okrika who refused to be cowed in the face of the attack and intimidation.
He also commended the officers and men of the Rivers State Police command for their efforts despite the fact they were outnumbered by the assailants.
“We remain resolute in our quest to rid Rivers State of brigandage and criminality and reassure our supporters that this change train cannot be stopped. God is on our side,” he concluded.