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PDP supporters scare residents, protest with charms in Rivers

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Supporters of Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party have continued their protest by adopting fetish materials in front of the Independent National Electoral Commission Port Harcourt office in their demands to see the electoral materials used for the March 18 governorship election that was held in the state.

The protest which started on Monday turned violent when the governorship candidate of the APC, Tonye Cole, and some members of the party executive arrived at the GRA junction to proceed to the INEC office, just a few metres away along Aba Road in Port Harcourt.

Cole had insisted that he and his team would visit the INEC office on Tuesday to continue their demand.

However, it was learnt that they decided to stay back to avoid the fisticuffs and pandemonium that led to him being injured during the protest on Monday.

PUNCH reports that at the scene of the day two protest, the protesters placed several fetish materials in the middle of the road with a man dressed like a ‘juju priest’ adorned in red cloth with his head and waist wrapped with palm fronds, presiding over affairs, pouring libations, and making incantations in a local dialect.

Barricades were erected by security operatives on both the Waterlines axis and the GRA junction leading to the INEC office remained, as motorists and commuters were also barred from accessing the hitherto busy express road.

The protest, which had since been led by the Deputy Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Edison Ehie, and the Ikwerre Local Government Area Chairman, was joined by more lawmakers on Tuesday, including the 32-member House leader, Martins Amaewhule.

“The police must arrest him (Cole) today because we don’t know what to tell the family of the dead PDP supporter. The wife and children are crying at the hospital. Why must we continue to fold our hands and allow criminals to steal our money because they are using thugs?

“The Nigeria Police must rise to the occasion. We are ready to die for our rights. We are ready to die to defend our mandate. Enough is enough,” Ehie stated.

The protesters later presented an acknowledged copy of the PDP’s petition dated March 24, 2023, in which the ruling party demanded that the INEC release Certified True Copies of electoral materials.

Reacting to Tuesday’s protest, Beke, however, said the APC will do everything within the law to get what it needs to file its case at the election petition tribunal.

He said, “They blocked the INEC office with juju, are you not aware? Didn’t you see what they tied there? That tells you what they are up to. Do they have the right to block INEC’s office? You can see what they are doing.

“For us, the world has known our demands, and we are going to get what we are asking for within the law. We never said they (INEC) should not give any other person what they are asking for.

“No, we asked that they give CTC documents, and we have done that petition to the Inspector General of Police because we feel we won’t get justice from the police in Rivers State.”

Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike has faulted the demands of the state’s APC governorship candidate, Cole, to inspect election materials at the INEC office in Port Harcourt.

Wike expressed surprise that a candidate, (making a veiled reference to Cole) personally went to the INEC office to inspect CTC documents of election materials.

He spoke at the commissioning of the Government Secondary School in Kpor, the headquarters of the Gokana Local Government Area of the state, on Tuesday.

He stated, “Have you seen where a candidate is going to INEC to say that he wants to collect CTC? What are his lawyers doing? What are his agents doing?

“Those are the duties of lawyers. What CTC do you want to collect? Let people see the truth of the matter. You lost the election; you lost the election.”

In separate news, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Johnson Sinikiem, in a statement, has urged all political parties that applied to inspect election materials to visit their local government offices for such purposes.

The statement partly read, “The commission has received nearly fifty (50) of these applications since the conclusion of the presidential, National Assembly, governorship, and state Assembly elections in Rivers State.

“And a good number of these applications have been processed in accordance with the date of receipt of such applications and payment of certification fees. This process is still ongoing.

“The commission has also advised all applicants to visit our local government offices where these documents are domiciled for inspection while we work out modalities for inspection of other documents domiciled at the state office in accordance with available spaces.

“The Management of INEC Rivers State, therefore, wishes to assure all applicants and the general public that the Commission is committed to discharging its constitutional and lawful duties without preference or bias.”

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, Okon Effiong, has warned politicians to stop dragging the police into politics.

While noting that “the police remain neutral and focused on their constitutional duties,” CP Effiong warned that “unnecessary protesters hindering vehicular and commercial activities will not be tolerated.”

 

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