From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Former senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial, Magnus Abe, has condemned the attack on members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Asari Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Abe, in a statement, accused some individuals loyal to Minister of Transportation Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, of being perpetrators of the dastardly act.
He alleged that the gunmen invaded the venue of a peaceful gathering of APC members in Buguma City with dangerous weapons, inflicting serious injuries on several persons, including women.
Abe further stated that the reason Ben Horsfall and other party members almost lost their lives at the meeting in Buguma was because they dared to disagree with the Minister of Transportation.
‘The Rivers State version of federal might was yesterday (Sunday) visited on Hon Ben Horsfall and some members of the APC in Buguma City. This is ominous beginning to the new year in Rivers State and a clear sign of what is ahead for Rivers people,’ Senator Abe said.
‘Nigerians will do well to remember that it was the same Hon Ben Horsfall who risked life and limb and physically served the court papers of the now-famous case of Amaechi vs INEC on the then sitting Governor of Rivers State, Sir Celestine Omehia.
‘It was Hon Ben Horsfall’s courage and his conviction to disagree with the powers that be at that time that made the case possible. Ben Horsfall was never assaulted, attacked, or brutalised for his open confrontation with then Governor Omehia.
‘Today, for daring to hold a different view from Amaechi, but for the grace of God, Hon Ben Horsfall, himself and several others could have died.
‘Nigerians will do well to remember that the political violence that engulfed Rivers State and claimed so many lives before the 2015 elections actually started with attacks on supporters of the Grassroots Democratic Initiative, then led by the Minister of State for Education, Barrister Nyesom Wike.
‘Nigerians will also recollect that the first place the GDI peacefully held a rally in Rivers State was in Gokana Local Government Area (my home local government), because I flatly refused despite orders from above to allow violence on Rivers people of any political persuasion.
‘When the response to violence came, the originators and original sponsors were the ones now holding rallies and demonstrations to call attention to escalating violence in Rivers State.
‘At the end of the day, the recourse violence did not alter the result of the contest.
‘We are treading the same path once again, from the violence visited on party members at Old Party Secretariat, to attack on the State Judiciary, the attack on the State Party Secretariat at Waterlines Junction, and yesterday’s attack on Rivers people in Asari Toru Local Government Area.
‘The temptation and the belief of the Minister and his supporters that violence offers a short cut to the resolution of the situation in the party has become evident.
‘I have been restrained in my reactions, in the belief that we cannot all lose our heads at the same time. But, the lack of effective response to these issues by the security agencies, is leading these criminals and their sponsors to the conclusion that they are above the law, and now becoming emboldened and unrestrained.
‘When the security agencies allow political crime to reign unchallenged, they should not be surprised when violent crime ravages the society; for these politically protected, and privileged criminals are the same ones tormenting our society today because they can act with impunity and are being protected for their political roles. A stitch in time they say saves nine,’ Abe warned.
The former lawmaker said the matter (like the previous cases before it) has been reported to the security agencies who were actually witnesses to the event.
‘This is a test case for Rivers State ahead of 2023. The political issues in the APC in Rivers State cannot be resolved by violence. Even if we succeed in killing one another, will that bring peace to the party? Will that endear the party to the majority of Rivers people?
‘All leaders of Rivers State must stand up in clear condemnation of the resort to violence, for at the end of the day anyone can become a victim when violence reigns.
‘The response of the security agencies must be swift, effective and definitive, to avoid another era of political bloodletting in Rivers politics.
‘Our people deserve no less,’ he appealed.