Okrika: We’re Running Out Of Patience – APC

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Being a speach by spokesperson for the Greater Together Campaign Organisation, Ibim Semenitari, at a press briefing on Wednesday in Port Harcourt on the postponement of APC rally in Okrika.
Today is a sad day for
our democracy. Today, the Nigerian state has visited violence on us as members of the All Progressives Congress in Okrika Local Government Area, and has told us that we are less than humans. We are not entitled to enjoy our democratic rights of association, our right to vote or be voted for.
The incidents in our local government area, perhaps, are no longer news to you. For purposes of records and for emphasis, Okrika local government is one of the 23 local government areas of Rivers State. It is home to over 222,285 persons (2006 census).  Some 65,300 of these are registered voters while 38,000 are members of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Okrika Local Government Area.
Coincidentally, Okrika is also the home of Nigeria’s first lady, Mrs. Patience Ibifakaa Goodluck Jonathan. Okrika people are known for their industry, tenacity and courage. Their early contact with the colonialists meant that they had early education and learnt early the tenets of democratic rule and governance.  Okrika is both an oil producing and oil bearing community. It suffered a lot of damage as a frontline LGA during the Niger Delta militancy days. Indeed, its communities bore the brunt as the fault line of those days. Needless to say the scars are still with us.
There is much to say about Okrika Local Government Area but we will prefer to turn our attention to more recent events. Okrika people have always supported leadership that is progressive and focused on service delivery. We are republican in nature and whilst we have the war canoe chieftaincy system, we recognise and reward merit. We are not afraid to call a spade, a spade, and will fight to ensure the unity and progress of our Se.
In 2011 Okrika people displayed this commitment to the good of our people when even though an Okrika son, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, contested for the governorship elections under the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the elections in Okrika were, peaceful, free, fair and without acrimony or rancour. Even as we campaigned, we ate together, sang together and danced together without anyone shifting his or her political positions. In the end, the PDP won the elections in Okrika at all levels. As at that time, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi led members of the PDP in Okrika to hold rallies and campaign without injury to any of our people or any attack of any kind.
Events after 2011 forced Governor Amaechi and also majority of the members of the PDP in Okrika to move political party to the All Progressives Congress. Since this decision to exercise our right of association by moving to the All Progressives Congress, our members have been visited with threats, violence and intimidation. When we commenced APC registration in Okrika Local Government Area in February, 2014, our members were attacked and brutalised. Thankfully, the Okrika indomitable spirit kept them going, and we managed to conclude the registration under most trying and difficult conditions.
More recently, in the early hours of January 11, 2015, the Okrika LGA APC party secretariat and the campaign office of the APC candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, was attacked. Campaign billboards and posters were destroyed.
The APC secretariat is located in Abam-Ama, a community that shares borders with Oba-Ama, hometown of Nigeria’s first lady, Patience Jonathan. This incident was reported to the Rivers State police command and the police high command in Abuja the same day. Till date, the Nigerian police has done nothing.
Again, on the early hours of Saturday, January 24, 2015, some PDP members attacked the venue of the proposed APC Governorship rally. They destroyed property, burnt cars and attempted to prevent the rally from holding. Refusing to be cowed, the APC tried to rebuild its destroyed platforms to enable it hold the rally.
It is pertinent to note at this point that the security personnel who were sent to secure the venue were unceremoniously pulled out, and asked to stand down the operations on the ubiquitous orders from above. Minutes after the security left, another set of PDP boys swarmed on the venue attacking persons and destroying property. Not satisfied with this they moved into the community, attacking homes of APC members, burning cars, looting homes and harming persons.
Again for the sake of peace, the APC called off its governorship rally, engaging all parties and rescheduled it for January 10th. CP Bature went on air to say that on any other date, the police would provide adequate security for any subsequent rally in Okrika. On February 4, 2015, the APC Okrika again wrote to the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State, requesting security protection for that rally. On the 9th of February, after all arrangements had been put in place, the outgoing Commissioner of Police, Dan Bature informed the APC that it would need to change its dates and hold its rally instead on Thursday, February 12th to enable the police put in place adequate security measures to enable the APC hold its rally in Okrika.
On Monday, February 10th, leaders of the APC in Okrika received invitation letters to a security briefing with CP Bature scheduled for February 11, 2015. Prior to these invitations, there were rumours all over Okrika to the effect that the wife of the president, Mrs. Jonathan had decreed that the APC must not be allowed to hold its rallies in the two Okrika-speaking local government areas of Okrika and Ogu/Bolo.
According to the rumours, despite several entreaties to her to allow the APC hold a mere campaign rally, she insisted that the rallies must not hold on “her turf.”
To further guarantee that her orders were not to be thwarted, Mrs. Jonathan arrived Port Harcourt on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, with plans to visit Okrika on Thursday, February 12th.
In obedience to the invitation from the CP, the leadership of the APC was at the Rivers State Police Command at 12noon and waited to meet with the CP up till 12:40pm. Eventually, DC Shaba, DC Amadi and other members of the command who sat in for the CP received us. The members of the PDP were evidently absent at the meeting.
The sum total of the meeting with the police command was that the Rivers State police command was unable to guarantee security for anyone in Rivers State during any rallies. This meeting was holding at the same time as the PDP was holding its own rally in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
In the light of the above, the APC in Okrika wishes to ask the following questions:
1. Under the laws of Nigeria isn’t the Rivers State Police command bound to provide security to all parties to enjoy their fundamental rights of freedom of assembly and choice
2. Why was the police command able to provide adequate security for the PDP to hold its rally in Obio/Akpor an equally volatile LGA but not in Okrika?
3. Is Okrika Local government suddenly so ungovernable that the police is unable to give us a date on which we can hold our rally as we have been asked to postpone the rally indefinitely”
4. Why is the police unable to unravel the mystery behind the attacks on the APC and its members whereas they were quick to unravel those who attacked the PDP?
5. Can elections hold in Okrika local government area since it has become obvious that the Rivers State police cannot guarantee security for a mere rallies?
In conclusion, the APC leadership Okrika wishes to ask all our members and the peace loving people of Okrika, to remain calm in the face of undue provocation and intimidation. We also call on our in-law Mr. President to call his wife to order and to direct the security agencies to protect the constitutional rights of every citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Posterity is watching all Nigerians!

Sulieman Abba, Police IG and Dr Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, Rivers State APC Chairman
Sulieman Abba, Police IG and Dr Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, Rivers State APC Chairman