Unknown gunmen yesterday stormed the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship campaign rally venue at Okrika National School Field, in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, killing a policeman and injuring more than 19 others.
The hoodlums also burnt more than 15 vehicles, destroyed musical equipment, chairs and others deployed for the rally.
The Rivers State chapter of the APC Governorship Campaign Train had finally landed in Okrika yesterday after three aborted attempts, taking the home local government of the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, and former warlord, Chief Ateke Tom, by storm.
APC Gubernatorial Candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, pulled an unprecedented crowd at the rally held at the National School Field, Okrika, thus underlining APC’s determination to win the March 28 and April 11 elections convincingly with votes from all sections of the state.
Yesterday’s rally was held amidst multiple explosions and shootings which destroyed parts of the school buildings but that in no way affected the turnout of party faithful, including PDP decampees, who joined in shouting and singing, “Dakuku, Dakuku, Dakuku come and liberate us!” “Dakuku, Dakuku, Dakuku come and liberate us, we pray you!”
An elated Peterside sang and danced with the people in what was termed by some of those that attended the rally as a victory dance over the powers of darkness.
Upon arrival in Okrika, Peterside first visited Okrika Grammar School, Okrika, where he had his secondary school education, before hitting the venue of the rally.
In his address before the rally was disrupted by the hoodlums that attacked the rally ground with explosives and assorted sophisticated guns, Peterside assured that when elected as governor, he will liberate them from the hands of the agents of darkness that have held them hostage for years.
He commended the people for their bravery in the face of terror, and declared that no amount of intimidation will deter APC from forming the next government in Rivers State.
He said he was out to serve the people of the state and will not look back even if the struggle will cost him his life.
“Let the PDP continue to bomb us and we will continue to spread the gospel of peace and love for our state,” Peterside said.
He reassured the people of the state that he will not disappoint them, saying: “Our people are progressives and we are determined to provide leadership, and the few unprogressives in our state will not deter us from this divine mandate to liberate our people from evil minded people who are desperate to gain power against the will of our people.”
The APC governorship candidate introduced his ‘Road Map to Prosperity’, describing it as the best strategy to take Rivers people to the Promised Land where they are destined to be, “including empowering all Rivers State people, of which the non-indigenes are an integral part, through my Four-Point Agenda for the people of Rivers State.
He explained that the ‘Road Map to Prosperity’ aimed at taking Rivers State to the next level, include Public Sector Accountability and Security of Lives and Properties; Employment Generation and Wealth Creation; Social and Human Capital Development and Empowerment; as well as Institutional and Physical Infrastructure Development and Food Security.
At a press briefing in Port Harcourt later yesterday, Peterside said: “Today is one of my saddest days as a politician. The day had started on a pleasant note when as part of my campaign rally in Okrika, I visited the Okrika Grammar School, my alma mater, where I met with the principal and interacted with the students.
“From there, I proceeded to pay a courtesy call on the Amanyanabo of Ogoloma, HRM Emmanuel Oruyibo. While I was at the palace of the Amanyanabo, reports reached me and my team that three explosives had been detonated at the venue of the rally, National School Field, Okrika. Two of the explosives ripped off parts of the roof of the school building. The APC members and leadership at the venue immediately called in the security personnel and the anti-bomb squad who combed the area. It is important to note that several other explosives were found by the team but normalcy was restored.
“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.
“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 Okrika LGA, Mr D.D. Alabere was speaking, we started hearing sporadic gunshots from the back of National 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.
”The shooting lasted for about an hour and several persons are injured, including Charles Eruka, a Channels Television reporter. Five police officers were shot, one of them is dead and four are laying in critical condition at BMSH. 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.
“The APC Rivers State salutes the resilience of the people of Okrika who refuse to be cowed in the face of such intimidation and attack. We also commend the officers and men of the Rivers State Police Command for their efforts despite the fact that they were outnumbered.
“We remain resolute in our quest to rid Rivers State of brigandage and criminality, and reassures our supporters that this change train cannot be stopped; God on our side”, he said.
However, the Rivers State APC Chairman, Dr. Ikanya Ibiamu, has condemned the unwarranted attacks on party faithful, which made it impossible for the party to hold the rally before now, and described PDP as a dying party which is clinging at everything, including promoting insecurity, in a doomed bid for survival.
“With the success of the Okrika rally not minding the explosions and shooting to scare our people away from the rally ground, we have demonstrated character by uniting against the evil and darkness pervading our state,” Ikanya said, adding: “We heartily thank the great Okrika people for turning out en masse to welcome their Governor, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
“Darkness cannot be allowed to prevail over light. We are proud of the Okrika people, and we are assured that they will demonstrate this during the election proper so that collectively we ensure that those threatening our lives will not succeed in their evil plots against our state,” he said.
“Rivers APC unreservedly condemns the continuing resort to violence by a desperate Peoples Democratic Party, which, having seen the handwriting on the wall of its imminent defeat during the polls, is bent on making Rivers State ungovernable.
“Let the world see how PDP intends to ruin our economy by promoting insecurity in our state but God will surely protect us from all this madness. We urge the entire world not only to condemn this act of violence by the PDP leadership but intervene by calling those behind these unwarranted attacks on our party faithful to order”, he said.
He further urged the security operatives to fish out all those behind this ugly incident and attend to them accordingly no matter those that sponsored the attack to reassure us that we are still citizens of this nation”, he added.
The Tide correspondent, who was at the rally, and witnessed the shooting, reports that the gunmen killed a police officer, while over 15 persons, including four policemen, and a Channel TV Reporter, Charles Eruka, sustained serious injuries.
More than 15 vehicles were seen vandalized or burnt by the hoodlums.
The initial bomb scare had caused a stampede as APC supporters took to their heels to avoid being hit by three separate explosions which were later confirmed to have been fireworks thrown into the scene by suspected mischief makers.
The party supporters that were dispersed by the three separate explosions immediately reconvened only to be sent out of the campaign venue by the sporadic gunshots.
Security agents went down on the ground after drawing their guns in a bid to spot out where the unknown gunmen were hiding to hit them back.
A Channels TV Reporter, Mr. Charles Eruka, who was doing a stand-upper on the state of affairs even while lying on the ground, was hit by a stray bullet and is believed to be seriously injured.
His camera man, identified simply as Ekikere, said that Eruka was critically injured by the stray bullet.
Some APC members who spoke to The Tide at the scene of the incident, condemned the attack, and described it as the handiwork of enemies of peace, unity and progress which the party has brought to the state.
They called on the security agencies to track down those responsible for the attack on APC supporters in Okrika, and bring them to justice.
The rally, which had suffered three postponements following unfavourable security reports and threats of attacks by the PDP eventually held today, leaving a policeman dead and many APC supporters seriously injured.
For nearly two hours, security operatives battled to repel the attackers who had earlier thrown different explosives at National Field, Okrika venue of the rally to scare the APC. But the party proceeded with the rally after the venue was certified good for the campaign.
Since this awful assault on APC’s freedom to lawful assembly, many Nigerians have criticised the ruling party and Abuja for supporting acts of lawlessness in Rivers State and the entire South
The body of the police was deposited in a mortuary at Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital in Port Harcourt, while the injured persons were receiving treatment at the same BMH as at the time of filling this report.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the Rivers State Police Command, Ahmed Muhammad confirmed the attack, and killing of a police officer, whose name was simply given as Ifeanyi from Delta State.
He urged the public to remain calm as police would ensure that the perpetrators of the crime face the wrath of the law.
Meanwhile, the APC governorship candidate in Rivers State, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, has called off his planned campaign tour of Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area billed for today.
In a statement by Director of Communications, Greater Together Campaign Organisation, Ibim Semenitari, the decision to cancel the Wednesday rally was in honour of the dead.
“The decision to call-off the Ogu/Bolo campaign by Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the APC Governorship candidate, was in honour of those killed by the gunmen who attacked the APC campaign on Tuesday in Okrika. Dr. Peterside is grieved over the losses and has sympathised with the families of those killed while wishing the injured quick recovery”.
The statement further explained that Peterside and the APC stood firmly by the non-violence Peace Accord signed by political parties in Rivers State brokered by the Embassy of the United States of America in Nigeria.
“Despite this deliberate, well-co-ordinated attack on the APC governorship candidate and APC supporters, the candidate and party stand firm to the spirit and letter of the Non-violence Peace Accord brokered by the American Embassy in Nigeria.
“The Greater Together Campaign Organisation condemns the attack and disruption of the APC campaign in Okrika, while commiserating with families that lost their loved ones and breadwinners. That is the tale of woe the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has imposed on Okrika people, which is unacceptable and must be broken through the peoples’ collective resilience”, Semenitari added.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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