Politicians in the two main political factions in Rivers State recruited those behind the shooting that claimed two lives at a planned rally organized the Save Rivers Movement, an NGO supporting Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
The rally, which was supposed to hold in Bori, headquarters of the Khana local government of Rivers State of the Save Rivers Movement, was stopped by gunmen who shot from the early morning up till noon. The chaotic situation in the area made it extremely difficult to know the loyalty of the shooters, as heavily armed policemen joined in the shooting.
A reliable source disclosed that the gunmen acted on the order of a top People’s Democratci Party (PDP) member in Ogoniland, who had vowed that the rally would not hold. The source added that some of the gunmen were ex-militants and were part of the protest organized by some youth groups that were against the redeployment of the state Commissioner of Police Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu.
“The boys started converging in Bori a day before the shooting started, on the order of a top member of the PDP, who works with a top ex-militant leader. They were camped very close to the venue of the planned rally, and drank all through the night. They also smoked Indian hemp.
“The members of the Save Rivers Movement expected harassment at the rally, but they didn’t expect the shooting, and had to return to Port Harcourt where they took off from.”
The Save Rivers Movement (SRM) had severally announced the rally on the radio, but the state police command had warned them not to go ahead with it. Chief Tony Okocha, the Chief of State to Amaechi, and SRM’s legal representative, Barr. Ken Atsuwete, had on Saturday, while speaking on a radio phone-in programme, declared their readiness to go ahead with the protest.
Okocha wanted to find out from the police if there was any law preventing the SRM from holding rallies, arguing that the police don’t disrupt the activities of the Grassroots Democratic Initiative (GDI), the pro Minister for Education, Nyesom Wike group that has been holding rallies like SRM.
Meanwhile, the PDP has said that the shooting started after Ogoni people had rejected the rally. Jerry Needam, the media adviser to the state PDP chairman, Hon. Felix Obua, alleged that this “prompted the Chairman of Khana Local Government Council, Mr Bariledum Greg Nwiedam, who has lost bearing in the area, to resort to thuggery and violence by hiring thugs who unleashed mayhem on the people from 2am to about 11am today (Sunday Jan. 19, 2014).
“The heavily armed thugs came in their numbers and shot sporadically leaving in its trail two Ogoni youth badly shot. One was shot on the leg and another shot in the stomach.”