Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers Area, Biafraland, Dr. Dakaku Peterside and his running mate, Honourable Asita, yesterday escaped death at Okrika, in Okrika Local Government Council.
They were at the National Secondary School Field, Okrika, venue of his campaign rally when explosives hauled at the venue exploded. The explosions which were later followed by sporadic gunfire forced his supporters to scamper for safety.
Members and supporters of the APC, including journalists, had to run for cover as the shooting increased. Three explosions in quick successions were heard close to the venue of the rally at about 1.30pm. But the organisers of the rally resolved to go ahead with the rally.
At about 2.30pm, bursts of gunfire erupted with such intensity from behind the Okrika cemetery that those present at the venue of the rally fled for their lives.
Dr. Peterside and his deputy, Asita, were huddled into their cars by their security details. Commissioner for Information and Communication and the Director of Communication, Together Campaign Organisation, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari; Campaign Manager, Tamuno Williams and other officials of the Peterside’s campaign team ran for cover. Most people ran into the classrooms to avoid being hit by stray bullets.
Peterside on arrival at Port Harcourt, told journalists that about 50 of his supporters sustained various degrees of injuries. He disclosed that a policeman sustained severe injuries and was in critical condition.
Channels Television correspondent, Charles Eruka, who was covering the rally live was stabbed by an unknown person in the melee that ensued.
Dr. Peterside, in an interactive session with journalists in Port Harcourt, explained: “I arrived at Okrika Grammar School, my alma mater by this morning to see the principal of the school and interact with the students. From there we went to the palace of the Amanayabo of Oguloma who blessed us. We then left to see the Bishop of Okrika at about 1.30pm at the Bishop Court and the bishop prayed for us.
“It was when we were at the palace of the Amanayabo of Oguloma at about1.30pm that we were informed that three explosives had been detonated close to the school building. We were not deterred because the police bomb disposal squad had brought the situation under control. We left the Bishop Court for the Okrika National field, venue of the rally.
“As we got in there things were normal. And we started with praise and worship. After the praise and worship we then moved to the segment that had to do with presentation of solidarity speeches. At the point where David Aragbere was making his speech, we noticed that there was sporadic shooting behind the national school field and Okrika cemetery. The shooting lasted for about one hour.”
Mrs. Semenitari who described the attack “as a very ugly incident” said it was difficult to place a figure on those that sustained injuries because “everyone in the venue of the rally had to run for safety as the gunshots intensified.”
She lamented: “As I speak, we cannot account for our members in Okrika as we all scampered for safety. APC supporters and the governorship candidate and his running mate had to run for their lives when sound of gunshots became increasingly worrisome.”
Williams informed journalists that “sporadic gunshots into the air abruptly terminated the rally. We could no longer go ahead with the rally because our safety became threatened.”
Peterside who spoke to journalists upon his arrival at the venue of the rally said the resolve to hold the rally “is in honour of the spirit of resilience that the Okrika people are known for that we will not disappoint them; we are determined to go ahead with the rally today in honour of the determination of the Okrika people to choose the kind of government that they want; in determination of the resilience of the Okrika people to choose government that will fight insecurity; who lift their people out of poverty and create jobs for the people.”
At press time, Dr. Peterside led journalists to Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, BMH, where the remains of the police who was killed at Okrika was deposited.
Meanwhile, Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi has blamed the wife of the President Jonathan, Dame Patience for the attack on members and supporters of the APC in Okrika, disrupting their campaign in Okrika Local Government area.
Amaechi spoke to journalists in Abuja after the enlarged APC leaders meeting at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, Tuesday.
The governor also condemned the act of violence and expressed disappointment over the law enforcement agents’ failure to ensure a hitch free campaign for the APC, despite having earlier assured the party of security and gave approval for the campaign to hold.
“Again, as usual, the wife of the President won’t allow the APC hold rally in that place (Okrika). The wife of the President and the governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers again organised thugs to disrupt APC rally. As usual, the police couldn’t protect us, over 200 policemen. I asked the commissioner of police and he said they have over 200 policemen there. Yet, three explosions and then they opened fire on members of APC. The Channels TV reporter, I hear, is injured, stabbed, and members of APC injured.
“We had meetings with DSS (Directorate of State Security) and police and they confirmed we could go ahead. There were 200 policemen and there were over 20 to 30 DSS men who came there and they did nothing,” Amaechi said.
But in a swift reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dissociated itself from the Okrika explosions and called for peace in the state ahead of the general elections.
A statement issued in Port Harcourt by Barr Emma Okah, Chairman, Media and Publicity Committee of the Rivers State PDP Campaign Organisation condemned the act and urged the Police and other security agencies to investigate the incident and bring the culprits to book.
According to Okah, nobody should encourage violence in our polity. The PDP is a peace loving party and believes that everybody should be given equal opportunity in all parts of the country to hold rally and canvass for votes.
“Violence does not end well and it is for that reason that we have continued to encourage our PDP members to remain peaceful and law-abiding despite the recurring cases of provocation by the APC in Rivers State and many parts of the Country,” he said.
As at the time of filing this report, two persons have been confirmed dead.


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