The rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held in Gbajimba, the home base of Governor Samuel Ortom is reported to have been disrupted by hoodlums who fired gun shots to disperse the crowd.
APC alleged on Friday in Makurdi that its rally at Gbajimba, the headquarters of Guma Local Government Area, was one of the governorship campaigns across the 23 Local Government Areas of the state to shore up support for its candidates in the 2019 polls.
Addressing journalists in Makurdi, Prof Eugene Aliegba, a member of the Emmanuel Jime/Sam Ode Campaign Organisation, alleged that the hoodlums fired gun shots at the crowd before they were chased away.
He said the attack happened when the Director-General of the campaign team, Sen Jack Tilley-Gyado, the governorship candidate, Mr Emmanuel Jime and other members of the campaign team were holding discussions with traditional rulers at another location.
”It is our tradition that wherever we went, we address the traditional rulers and other interest groups. So the rally was already started when we got the information that thugs stormed the venue, shot and dispersed the crowd.
”We are not sure of casualty details yet, we are awaiting details,” he said.
As the briefing progressed, a chieftain of the party in the state, Mr Mike Lordye, who claimed to have survived the attack, interjected by alleging that the hoodlums who attacked the crowd, started by throwing stones before resorting to live bullets.
He said he had information that his warehouse and petrol service station were also set on fire and appealed to the police to disclose the actual casualty level. This claim could not be verified.
Aliegba said the attack was worrisome because it happened at Gov. Samuel Ortom’s home town.
”Gbajimba is not just another local government area, it is the home town of the sitting governor of the state.
Another chieftain of the party, Reps Dickson Tarkighir, representing Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency, however, assured that ” nothing will stop us from campaigning in Gbajimba. Just be calm.”
He wondered why the parties had so quickly abandoned the peace pact, which they signed to guarantee violence free polls.
Tarkighir called on the Inspector- General of Police (I-G) to promptly intervene to ensure peaceful electioneering and elections in the state.
He claimed that some of the victims of the campaign-rally attack, brought to the Benue State Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), were turned back.
In a reaction to the claims by the APC, the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Moses Yamu, said both supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)and APC almost had a violent encounter had the police not intervened swiftly.
He attributed the tension to what the PDP claimed to be the use of provocative songs by the rival APC at a campaign rally.
He denied that “gunshots were fired.
The PPRO admitted that it took the prompt intervention of the Area Police Command to disperse the crowd ”which was almost becoming riotous”.
Benue politics is characterised by songs and drumming, usually depicting the shortcomings of those opposed to their party ideologies.