The Rivers State capital Port Harcourt was on lock down Friday as supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) clashed with those of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Scores of people were injured while business activities were paralysed as tousands of protesting members of APC drawn from 23 local government areas of the state had stormed the premises of the High Court complex around 7 am, alleging a plot by Senator Magnus Abe and his allies, including the state governor, Nyesom Wike, to abort today’s local government congress of the party through a court injunction.
The APC protesters then proceeded to take over the dualised Station Road around 8.30 am, causing a gridlock on the ever-busy road, with the commercial banks, offices and business outfits in the area quickly shutting their doors as they feared possible attack, according to TheNation.
Carrying placards with inscriptions like “Wike, allow APC members to do their things”, “No APC congress, no court sitting”, “Wike, stop using judiciary against APC”, “Judiciary has become Wike’s property”, “Wike, face PDP’s problems, leave APC alone” and ”Abe, you are ungrateful,” they prevented judicial officers from gaining entrance to then complex.
Things took a drastic turn when a horde of PDP youths chanting “PDP! Power!” forced their way into the court premises through the back gate and advanced towards the main gate where a violent clash ensued, leaving scores of people, including passers-by, injured.
The situation attracted the attention of policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), who started firing live bullets into the air to disperse the warring parties, while the dualised road was barricaded at both ends to restore normalcy.
In the chaos that followed many pedestrians fell victim to hoodlums who started robbing them of money and valuable items.
The Rivers State High Court, sitting under tight security, later granted an order of interlocutory injunction restraining Rivers APC from holding today’s LG congress.
The matter was adjourned till June 26 for hearing, based on the motion on notice filed by a faction of the APC allegedly disenfranchised during last Saturday’s ward congress, seeking to stop the LG congress.
Justice Chiwendu Nwogu of Rivers High Court, who delivered the ruling on the motion on notice, stopped APC from going ahead with the LG congress.
In spite of the court injunction, the Publicity Secretary of the APC in Rivers State, Chief Chris Finebone, who addressed reporters under a canopy at the vandalised state secretariat of the party on Forces Avenue, old Government Reservation Area, Port Harcourt yesterday, insisted that peaceful LG congress would hold today as planned, adding that the process had long begun and could not be stopped.
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, who later visited the high court complex to ascertain the level of damage done by the protesters, said the barricading of the court and the protest would be thoroughly investigated.
Wike said: “This is very unfortunate. Do not trivialise this invasion by saying it is just an attack by the APC on the judiciary. This is a complete coup by the Nigerian police and the APC to overthrow the Rivers State Government.
“We cannot continue to rely on the police to defend us. We must all stand up to defend democracy. What has happened is a sign of what APC and police have planned.”
A chieftain of the APC, Prince Tonye Princewill, however said: “From what happened this (yesterday) morning, it is clear that some members of the judiciary in Rivers State are being pocketed to do the biddings of the PDP.
“Our people are bold. APC’s congresses will hold.”