Hoodlums suspected to be militants on Sunday invaded the Save Rivers Movement rally in Bori, Khana Local Government Area and unleashed terror on members of the group.
The militants, who wore masks were said to have shot sporadically mostly at vehicles parked at the venue of the event by state government officials.
The Secretary to the State Government, Mr. George Feyii, the Chief of Staff, Government House, Chief Tony Okocha, and some journalists were among those that escaped death by a whisker.
Some however sustained serious bullet injuries during the incident that occurred barely a week after a similar rally was disrupted by operatives of the Rivers State Police Command in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
Okocha was also lucky during the Obio Akpor rally but a pro-Rotimi Amaechi senator, Magnus Abe, was not as he was shot with rubber bullets by policemen. Abe is currently in a London hospital receiving treatment.
It was learnt that during the latest incident, the militants, who besieged the All Saints Anglican Church venue of the rally, had begun shooting within Bori around 4.30am on Sunday.
They (hoodlums) however marched to the open field and fired at the parked vehicles at about 10. 40 a.m, forcing the SRM members to flee.
The first group of militants arrived wielding cutlasses while the second group came in later, wearing masks and shooting intermittently with sophisticated weapons.
However, the absence of security operatives at the venue made the attackers to have a field day.
Channels Television crew members that were on the ground to cover the event had the windscreen of their Outside Broadcasting Van smashed.
The SSG’s bullet-riddled Brilliance saloon car was seen being driven out of the venue of the rally.
A government official said they had to run into the bush when they saw a group of masked militants arriving the venue.
He said, “Immediately they came close, they started shooting at some of our vehicles. Some of us would have died if we had not taken the decision to run into the bush.”
Okocha told journalists that his personal security aides and those of the SGS rescued them.
Channel’s reporter, Grace Ekang, said she was “traumatised by the incident.”
“They (hoodlums) were shooting seriously; they attacked us and the first group that came stole our big camera,” Ekang lamented.
At Bori, policemen mounted roadblocks and barred journalists from gaining entry into the scene of the incident while motorists were forced to take longer routes to their destinations.
Governor Amaechi, who later inspected some of the damaged government and Channels Television vehicles, lamented the security situation in the state and described President Goodluck Jonathan’s government as being worse than Sani Abacha’s.
Amaechi said that democracy was in danger in the country with the insecurity in the state and added that the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mbu, had declared war on his administration and the people of the state.
He accused Mbu of being part of the attack on SRM supporters, maintaining that the Federal Government was desperate to win the 2015 elections.
The governor said, “There is a serious danger for democracy because what you are seeing here is close to what Abacha was doing.
“This is worse than the Abacha government. Here, people are being shot. This is worse because even governors were not arrested under Abacha.
“We heard Mbu called a meeting at the police officers mess and declared war on the Rivers State Government and Rivers State people. He is determined to ensure that they are not protected. He warned policemen in the state in advance not to protect anybody at the rally.
“The interpretation of this is that he knew that there was going to be an attack and he must have been part of the process of the attack. If he did not, then when the people started shooting around 4am, what did the police do?
“It shows how desperate the Federal Government is to win 2015 election. As the governor of Rivers State, if you hear gunshot from 4am, we will seek protection from that 4am; we will go and look for those who are shooting from 4am to 6am.
“They attacked pressmen and the Commissioner of Police did not care. I heard two persons are lying critically ill in the hospital.
“The lives of our people are not being protected because he (Jonathan) sent a police commissioner through his wife to pursue an election that is one year away.”
Amaechi, who vowed that botched Sunday rally would be held on Saturday, promised to be at the venue.
“I will want to expose myself, I will be there. I will be there on Saturday, let them come and shoot me,” he said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Mohammad, said though he received report of the attack, he was not aware that anybody was injured.
Mohammad pointed out that the police were not notified about the SRM rally.
He said,“ From the report I received, there was an attack on the SRM rally in Bori. Nobody said that anybody was injured.
“But the gathering by the group was without police notification. Nobody notified the police that there would be a rally in Bori.”
Meanwhile, the Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, has boasted that Amaechi would never rest unless he resigned as the state governor.
Wike, who spoke at a rally organized by the Grassroots Development Initiative in Degema on Sunday, described the All Progressives Congress as the enemy of the state.
He called on any group supporting Amaechi to learn from the GDI by obtaining permission from the police before embarking on any rally.
The minister said that Jonathan had good intentions for the people of the state and hence the appointment of a Chief of Army Staff from the state.
Source: The Punch