PDP, APC supporters clash at Rivers INEC office, one dies

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Violence rocked Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Monday as supporters of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party clashed along Aba Road in the city over the outcome of the March 18 governorship election.

PDP supporters, in their hundreds, as early as 8am, stormed the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission along Aba Road, asking the commission to allow a joint inspection of election materials by political parties ahead of the election petition tribunal sitting.

The placard-carrying protesters took off  from GRA, while the demonstration paralysed vehicular activities from the Waterlines area.

It was learnt that the APC candidate in the March 18 governorship poll, Tonye Cole, accompanied by the State APC Chairman, Emeka Beke, and other party leaders were sighted in an opposite direction proceeding to the INEC office.

On sighting them, the protesting youths allegedly started pelting them with stones and water sachets.

 But security operatives came to the rescue and ferried him away from the scene of the protest.

Soldiers of the 6 Division, Nigeria’ Army, operatives of the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria  Security and Civil Defence Corps reportedly rushed to the scene and shot into the air to disperse the protesters. 

 It was also gathered that one of the security operatives attached to Cole fired the stray bullet that eventually killed  one of the protesters.

Speaking at a different location afterwards, Cole said, “There was an assault on myself, my party chairman, and the woman leader, who were going peacefully to collect documents from INEC.

 

“We were not allowed to get anywhere near the INEC office. This was a deliberate act to prevent us from going to get fundamental materials critical to our petition. And they have told us that they are going to be there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, by which time we will have no documents from INEC to present to the tribunal.

“All we are interested in is going to the tribunal. You say you have won; allow us to go to the tribunal to prove that you did not win.”

The state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Sydney Gbara, however, described the claim by Cole as false.

Gbara said, “Pastor Tonye Cole is being economical with the truth.

“What happened was that the PDP was at INEC to register their protest and make demands that they also want to be included in inspecting the result sheets used for the election.

“And we all know that since theelection, several political parties have done the same. No other party has gone there to frustrate or stop them.

“But what we saw today was that Tonye Cole came there with thugs dressed in police uniforms and tried to disrupt what the PDP was doing, and we said no.

“In the process, the thugs tried to disperse the PDP supporters and started shooting into the crowd. And one of our supporters was shot and rushed to the hospital. The information we are getting now is that he has been confirmed dead.

“Therefore, the PDP is calling on the Inspector-General of Police and the state Commissioner of Police to go after Tonye Cole and arrest him immediately for the death of that young man.”

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