Being Text of a Press Conference by the Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council on Thursday, February 23, 2023 in Port Harcourt

Gentlemen of the Press

As you are aware, we concluded our schedule of State-wide governorship campaign Rallies yesterday with the grand finale at Abonnema, Headquarters of Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State. This Press Conference is called to intimate you of the unsavoury experiences we continue to encounter as a party and candidates in the exercise of our constitutional rights to canvas for votes from the electorate in our dear State.

  1. You will recall that we reported a case of the sealing up of the Tipper Park at Chokocho in Etche Local Government Area by the Council Chairman, Hon. Obinna Anyanwu, shortly after the conclusion of our governorship campaign Rally in that LGA. For the records, the said Tipper Park is the personal property of Chief (Hon) Ephraim Nwuzi, the member representing Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. He is seeking re-election as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the same seat in the election holding on Saturday, February 25, 2023.
  2. We reported further incidents of attacks on our campaigns with the detonation of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) accompanied by shootings at the Rumuwoji traditional grounds venue of our Port Harcourt City LGA Rally. Recall that even though pictures of party members who were injured in that blast were made public, the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Okon Effiong Okon, stunned the world when he categorically denied that any explosion was recorded within the vicinity of our Rally. Contrary to settled procedure in our criminal laws, the Commissioner of Police ordered an investigation of the reported incident by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations and the Bomb Disposal Unit of the Command after his the preemptive declaration. Till date, neither has the Police made public findings of the ordered investigation nor has any arrest been made of those Port Harcourt City LGA PDP leaders who the APC reported were involved in that attack.
  3. The docility or compromise of the Nigeria Police in Rivers State under CP Okon Effiong Okon was not without its natural consequences as we experienced further attacks on our campaigns. Thugs working for the PDP attacked our Rally in Andoni, Oyigbo, Opobo/Nkoro, Tai, etc. In fact, in the case of Opobo, hometown of Siminalayi Fubara, governorship candidate of the PDP, our governorship candidate and the campaign entourage escaped death as guns and bottles were fired as projectiles at fellow Rivers men who came to campaign in Opobo from communities Sim Fubara was campaigning without a single negative incident.
  4. The Government of Rivers State that enacted Executive Orders to impede free campaigns by opposition parties did not stop at that; it actively encouraged these attacks we have referenced. Of course, the only explanation to give for the impunity of those attacking us, and the inability of the Nigeria Police to arrest a single person throughout our campaigns, is that they had State cover and backing. No more; no less!!
  5. The events of the last few days have further reinforced our fear and concerns for the lives of our members with the Nigeria Police now an effective tool in the hands of the enemies of democracy now running the Government of Rivers State. As we speak, Hon. Ephraim Nwuzi is cooling his heels in prison since the gestapo raid on his Port Harcourt residence by fiercely armed Police officers. A member of the House of Representatives was arrested by the Police and hounded into jail on spurious allegations within six hours!! The same Police that is unable to unravel one incident or arrest anyone out of the lot the Rivers APC reported.
  6. We have credible intelligence from other Local Government Areas of the plot to pick more of our leaders and deny them their freedom on trumped up charges. In Tai Local Government Area, Victory Agbara who until his defection to the APC at our governorship campaign Rally in that LGA was Leader of the OSPAC Vigilante and member of the PDP, was arrested on Tuesday, the 21st of February. He has been detained at the Anti-cultism Unit facility of the Rivers State Police Command in very gruelling circumstances without trial or released on bail since then.
  7. Sadly, we are constrained to report that more than dangerous dimensions to the repression of rights of our members, other opposition parties and threats Wike’s faction of the PDP constitute to democracy in Rivers State are emerging. Just two days ago, Ogbonna Nwuke was filing charges of sedition against our leader and immediate past Minister of Transportation, The Rt. Hon. Chubuike Rotimi Amaechi, whilst addressing a press conference. Nwuke, who is the Director of Media and Publicity of the factional PDP Campaign Council in one moment of absolute indiscretion fought fortuitously to rope Amaechi into the crises Nigerians are facing with the Naira swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Nwuke identified and presented Amaechi as part of a cabal at the Aso Rock Villa who are conspiring against the welfare of Nigerians through the implementation of the policy. A product of clearly convoluted reasoning, Nwuke blamed a man who left the Government of the Federation with his voluntary resignation as Minister in May 2022 to seek the presidential nomination of the APC ahead of the 2023 general elections. This is how low operatives of the factional PDP in Rivers State are prepared to go to sell their perfidy. This is how far those who in their warped thinking mistake political competition for enmity are prepared to go. For the Wikes and Nwukes of the factional Rivers PDP, nothing but the total annihilation of the opposition settles political scores. How naive!! So they stop at NOTHING to stop their opponents.
  8. As a corollary to the immediate above, Wike and his footsoldiers have perfected the art of compromising State institutions with a dubious appropriation of the commonwealth of our State. They dole out billions and hundreds of millions in Naira and hard foreign currency to compromise State actors deployed to the State. In effect, what we have as the near and present danger to democracy in Nigeria is a Rivers State where an Assistant Inspector-General of Police and four Commissioners of Police are deployed to the State for election duty and they find it very convenient strolling into Wike’s private home at Rumuepirikom to freely indulge at midnight on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. What can a Police officer who had been so indulged less than 50 hours to D-day offer the the State in terms of security of the State or neutrality during the elections here? Nothing!!
  9. In the light of the above, we hasten to warn that the world cannot afford to stand idly by and watch democracy become so terribly compromised in Rivers State with incessant attacks and breach on the rights and freedom of free citizens. We have lost faith in the neutrality of the Police in Rivers State and submit that only the intervention of multilateral and multinational agencies can restore sanity here. We have a Governor whose understanding of power and the desperation for control of same bothers on schizophrenia. Wike would do anything, no matter how atrocious, illegal, unlawful and illegitimate to sustain his grip on power. But why should that be the case when the Constitution has provided proper and adequate safeguards against such dictatorship?
  10. Consequently, we have petitioned the European Union Elections Observer Mission in Nigeria, Ambassadors and High Commissioners of the United States, Great Britain, the European Union, African Union, the International Criminal Court at the Hague and local human rights advocacy groups. We either rise to stop this dictator now or the State perishes at this 2023 general elections with very dire consequences for Nigeria. We have lost by far too many lives as a party in Rivers State since the 2014/2015 elections cycle to tolerate any further attacks on our lives or personal freedom. No one should blame our party’s leadership and members for any resort to self-defence or self-help to protect ourselves from this point onwards. That is our minimum condition for peace for as long as the Government of Rivers State led by Nyesom Wike remains intolerant of competing interests in our democracy and the Nigeria Police or other security agencies connive with him to make the democratic process or the conditions for the exercise of our democratic rights unbearable in the State.
  11. The APC in Rivers State has counted too many dead bodies, damaged properties and confiscation of our fundamental rights through the collaboration of Wike with State and non-State actors. Therefore, the census of adversity against our people can no longer go unchallenged. We shall consider any further arrest of, or intimidating acts on members of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State between now and the elections of February 25 and March 11 an affront and resist same with all our might.
  12. We are aware that the reign of terror which these developments represent forms part of the strategies to rig the 2023 general elections. The factional PDP wants to steal power to govern Rivers State for a tiny clique without resistance but they have failed. Intimidated by the popular reception our governorship candidate draws across the State, the factional PDP is going for broke. But it should be clear to them by now that we are resolved never to surrender to their devious and dubious devices. This democracy must be defended against the rule of one despot and his gang.

Sogbeye C. Eli
Spokesman, Rivers APC Campaign Council

February 23, 2023.

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