Soldiers Take Over Port Harcourt Stadium
SOLDIERS have barricaded the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt three days after Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, said the facility couldn’t be used for President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign slated for Thursday.
Similarly, security agents, including soldiers have been deployed to Okrika, Rivers State, after the venue for the All Progressives Congress governorship rally was attacked with an explosive device suspected to be dynamite by unidentified assailants.
Residents of Igwurate community were surprised yesterday when scores of soldiers stormed the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium and took over the entire facility, which has been in contention between the Rivers State Government and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that had applied to use the facility for President Jonathan’s reelection campaign rally.
Governor Amaechi had last Thursday declared that the State would not grant the PDP permission to use the facility because of ongoing construction work, even though the APC used the same stadium on two occasions for its rally. But the party had threatened to forcefully use the stadium because the state government and its part — the APC — had used it twice in the past one month.
When The Guardian visited the stadium, the soldiers used Hilux vans to block the main entrances and barred anyone from accessing the facility. A convoy suspected to belong to one of the governorship candidates was later escorted into the stadium by security operatives.
Meanwhile, at about 4:30 am yesterday, some unidentified gunmen stormed the National School field Okrika, where the APC was billed to hold its governorship rally and attacked persons setting up the sound system and the podium. After the workers had fled, the gunmen who were shooting sporadically later used explosives to destroy the podium, sound equipment and some canopies. Later, at about 9 am where some leaders of the APC gathered to rearrange the venue, gunmen again stormed the venue and burnt and destroyed their cars. According to the APC Okrika party chairman, Christian Asifamaka, the gunmen came in a white Hiace bus and allegedly came in from Igbiri, a community that shares borders with Oba Ama community. The incident forced the APC to cancel the rally.
The Rivers State Police Commissioner of Police, Dan Bature, confirmed the incident and said there was no loss of life. He explained that the entire area is now under police control, while Police Bomb Disposal unit had commenced discreet investigation. According to him, the incident has heightened tensions, and based on police assessment that the situation might degenerate to the extent where the protection of life and property will be threatened, the Command advised the APC to reschedule the rally to another date.
Bature said the Police are determined to discharge its constitutional mandate of protecting life and property. He warned all political parties in the state to adhere strictly to the code of conduct guiding political activities; respect law and order and eschew violence in all its ramifications before, during and after the 2015 general elections.