The All Progressives Congress has denounced the assault that took place on Monday against Tonye Cole, the party’s candidate for governor of Rivers, and a few other APC leaders as they travelled to the INEC’s office to check out the certified true copy of the election documents in advance of their appearance before the election petition tribunal.
According to reports, members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party also decided to demonstrate at the INEC office on the same day, calling for a joint examination of the election-related documents used on March 18.
The demonstrators reportedly rushed in Cole’s direction after learning he was nearby and attacked him with stones and “pure water” sachets.
The APC governorship candidate may have been attacked by a mob if not for his security team, who protected him.
One of the warring groups is said to have been killed in the crossfire as what began as a peaceful protest became into and bloody.
The Rivers State Police Command has as of this writing invited Cole to come and discuss his involvement in the violence that resulted in the death of the victim, who has subsequently been identified as a PDP member.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, responded to the attack in a statement released in Abuja and denounced it, saying such barbaric crimes had no place in a democracy.
Morka urged the police to conduct a thorough investigation, calling it a plot to thwart Cole and deter him from seeking redress before the election petition tribunal. He described it as a planned altercation between PDP thugs.
He said, “This barbaric and unprovoked attack occurred during a visit to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s office by Mr Tonye Cole, APC Governorship Candidate, Dr. Innocent Barikor, deputy governorship candidate, Mr. Emeka Beke, state chairman of the party and three other party officials to obtain the Certified True Copies of vital documents in the March 18 governorship and House of Assembly elections. Without warning, thugs and supporters of the PDP descended on our party officials, inflicting severe and life-threatening injuries on them, and damaging personal and party properties.
“This premeditated attack by PDP thugs and operatives on our officials and members in Port Harcourt is yet another in what has now become an orgy of violence carried out with mind-boggling audacity, and with absolutely no serious investigation by the police or repercussions for the instigators and perpetrators of this serial violence.
“Ostensibly, this latest attack was aimed at frustrating the effort of our Governorship Candidate to obtain vital documents to exercise his constitutional right to challenge the declared result of the Governorship election in the state. For the PDP that claims to have won the election to resort to this level of violence to block a legitimate legal challenge tells a different story of a party sitting precariously on needles and pins in the face of prospects of a legal challenge by our governorship candidate.
“While we commend the swift response of security agencies, especially the Police and the Nigerian Army in restoring peace and order in the wake of this brutal attack, again, we call on the Inspector General of Police to order an urgent and thorough investigation into this and previous incidents of violent attacks on leaders and members of our party in Rivers state, and to bring the sponsors and perpetrators to justice.”