One killed, as Rivers APC, PDP supporters clash

A spade of violence wobbled Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Monday as supporters of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party clashed along Aba Road in the city over the outcome of the March 18 governorship election.

The Peoples' Democratic Party supporters, in their numbers, stormed the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission along Aba Road, at about 8:am on Monday asking the commission to allow a joint inspection of election materials by political parties ahead of the election petition tribunal sitting.

While the placard-carrying protesters took off from GRA, the demonstration frustrated vehicular activities from the Waterlines axis while others were stationed at the INEC office gate.

The incident resulted in a clash between the APC supporters and PDP supporters in the state. Many people were injured while one person was hit by a stray bullet.

In the process, Tonye Cole, the APC governorship candidate,  reportedly escaped a mob attack as he was whisked away from the scene negligibly injured.

The reports say that the PDP protest was ongoing, Cole, in company of the state APC Chairman, Emeka Beke, and other party leaders, showed up at the GRA axis of Aba Road, heading for the INEC office.

On hearing that Cole was at the GRA Junction, the protesting youths raced in his direction and threw stones and water sachets at him.

Security details attached to Cole immediately protected him and whisked him into the vehicle, but the protesters continued pelting stones and sachet water at him and his group.

Not too long afterward, soldiers of the 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt, and operatives of the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps arrived and shot into the air to disperse the protesters.

The security forces stationed patrol vehicles in front of the INEC office to prevent any damage to the facility.

Talking to newsmen at a different location shortly afterward, Cole said, “There was an assault on myself, my party chairman, and the woman leader, who were going peacefully to go and collect documents from INEC.

“We were not allowed to get anywhere near the INEC office. This was a deliberate act to prevent us from going to get fundamental materials critical to our petition. And they have told us that they are going to be there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, by which time we will have no documents from INEC to present to the tribunal.

“All we are interested in is going to the tribunal. You say you have won; allow us to go to the tribunal to prove that you did not win.”

Reacting to the incident, the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Sydney Gbara, described the claims by Cole as false.

Sydney said, “The truth of the matter is that Pastor Tonye Cole is being economical with the truth and is trying to deceive the gullible members of the public.

“What happened was that the PDP was at INEC to register their protest and make demands that they also want to be included in inspecting the result sheets used for the election.

“And we all know that since the election, several political parties have done the same. No other party has gone there to frustrate or stop them.

“But what we saw today was that Tonye Cole came there with thugs dressed in police uniforms and tried to disrupt what the PDP was doing, and we said no.

“In the process, the thugs tried to disperse the PDP supporters and started shooting into the crowd. And one of our supporters was shot and rushed to the hospital. The information we are getting now is that he has been confirmed dead as I speak to you.

“Therefore, the PDP is calling on the Inspector-General of Police and the state Commissioner of Police to go after Tonye Cole and arrest him immediately for the death of that young man.”


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