The police in Port Harcourt on Friday dispersed both pro-APC/AAC and Pro-PDP supporters with teargas as both groups were marching towards the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Aba/Port Harcourt Expressway, Rivers State.
This is coming as Governor Nyesom Wike banned all forms of protest in the state.
The two protesting groups had earlier gathered at the Port Harcourt Polo club marching towards the INEC office when they were accosted at the popular GRA junction by officers of the Rivers State Police Command.
Protesters scamper to safety as police shot teargas canisters at them.
Sequel to persisted protests on the streets of Port Harcourt, since the suspension of the electoral process since March 9, INEC, the Rivers Government placed a ban on all public protests in state till further notice.
The ban, announced by Emma Okah, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications said security agencies had been directed to enforce the ban in the interest of public peace and order.
The protesters are divided into two opposite political divides; those asking for the redeployment of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Obo Effanga and a stop on the collation of results, and those supporting that the REC should stay and complete his job of announcing the remaining results.
However, the All Progressives Congress, APC, has kicked against the ban on protests by the Rivers State Government, describing it as the height of absurdity by any government.
The APC said perhaps, Wike who authorised the ban was unaware that Rivers people and in deed Nigerians had inalienable right to peaceful protest.
“Perhaps the governor should be reminded that Honourable Justice Adekeye J.S.C. (rtd) once stated that, “A rally or placard carrying demonstration has become a form of expression of views on current issues affecting government and the governed in a sovereign state. It is a tread recognized and deeply entrenched in the system of governance in civilized countries. We must borrow a leaf from those who have trekked the rugged path of democracy and are now reaping the dividend of their experience.”
The party said in a press statement signed by its Spokesman, Chris Finebone, that the reason for the ban could only be that those protesting on the opposite side were now providing Rivers people and Nigerians better perspectives on the happenings in Rivers State.
The opposition party argued that another reason for the ineffectual ban was to scuttle further exposure of the ills and atrocities of the Rivers State Government under Wike who believed that pensioners, civil servants, workers of RSSDA and Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority and others might soon protest their abandonment and suffering by the governor since he accidentally got to power in 2015.
The party warned that Wike’s ban on protest was a simply waste of time and space, saying that the Nigeria Police could not enforce an illegal ban except the governor intended to deploy his usual gun-toting hoodlums.
“He should remember that this is not 2015; this is 2019. If the governor tries it, he will not like the outcome and he knows it,” APC said.
However, the Police had condoned off the INEC office on Aba/Port Harcourt Expressway diverting vehicles by GRA junction through Tombia Street causing serious gridlock.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised fresh alarm over an alleged attempt by the APC faction loyal to the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi to scuttle the collation and announcement of the results of the March 9, 2019 Governorship and State Assembly elections.
The PDP urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Transportation Minister to order even as the party further called on the Inspector-General of Police to keep a close tab on the activities of Amaechi in the State.
The party said it was clear that the APC was kicking against the government ban on public protests as the ban would deflate their alleged plans to cause crisis in the State.
“It is now obvious that APC is angry over the ban on public protests. They had intended to hide under public protests and use it as a weapon to unleash mayhem on the State which will in turn scuttle the collation and declaration of the governorship election results in the State”, the PDP said while urging the APC to be law-abiding rather than taking the laws into their hands.
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