The All Progressives Congress on Tuesday said the Rivers State government should be held responsible for the assassination of a popular human rights lawyer in the state, Ken Atsuwete.
Mr. Atsuwete was shot dead on Monday in Port Harcourt, by unknown gunmen.
Media reports said the lawyer was shot in his residence. But the police in the state told PREMIUM TIMES that he was shot on the road, inside his car.
“It was clearly a case of premeditated murder,” Peter Odike, Deputy State Chairman of the APC told journalists, Tuesday, in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
The party said Mr. Atsuwete, before his murder, had complained of having received threat text messages from people he suspected were agents of the Rivers State government.
The lawyer was the leading counsel to an APC chieftain, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, a former chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area, who is in prison custody for murder charges.
The APC said, “We know that last week, late Barr. Ken Atsuwete threatened while on a radio programme that he would (this week) expose how the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in Rivers State, Samuel Nwanosike, obtained a forged court order restraining INEC from releasing Tai rerun election results.
“Ken promised to present proof that such a court order did not exist and that the judge that purportedly gave that order was not a vacation judge as she had been on vacation in the US.”
The party said the killing of Mr. Atsuwete was just one of the many killings that had taken place in the state in recent times since Nyesom Wike became governor.
It also accused the government and the Peoples Democratic Party of having a hand in the killings.
“The APC wishes to be on record that the Rivers State Government and their agents must be held responsible for the killing of Barr. Ken Atsuwete.
“The present state government led by Gov. Nyesom Wike cannot stop the violence, killings and maiming that have become part of the everyday chequered lives of the people and residents of Rivers State.”
The party called on the police and other security agencies to find Mr. Atsuwete’s killers, and bring them to justice.
The state government, in its reaction, said, “It was irresponsible and shameful for the APC to try to politicize such a tragic incident.”
The Commissioner for Information, Austin Tam-George, while condoling with the family of the late Mr. Atsuwete, on behalf of the state government, advised people to be guided in their utterances and allowed the police do their job.
“We urge the police to deploy their best intelligence personnel to apprehend the culprits and bring them to face justice,” Mr. Tam-George said.
The commissioner said the state remained safe, despite these “occasional tragic incidents”.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Nnamdi Omoni, told PREMIUM TIMES on telephone, Tuesday evening, that investigation was going on, but that no arrest had been made.
“He was shot inside his car while on his way to pick up his neighbour who was kidnapped,” Mr. Omoni said. “The neighbour’s wife was in the car.”