Former federal lawmaker, Senator Magnus Abe, yesterday condemned the alleged attack on members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Asari Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Abe, who pointed accusing fingers at some top APC party leaders in the state for masterminding the assault, alleged that certain persons invaded the venue of a peaceful gathering of APC members in Buguma city with dangerous weapons, inflicting serious injuries on several persons, including women.
The statement signed by his Spokesman, Mr Parry Benson, stated that the reason Hon. Ben Horsfall and other party members almost lost their lives on Sunday in Buguma was because they dared to oppose a minister from the state.
“The Rivers state version of federal might was yesterday visited on Hon. Ben Horsfall and some members of the APC in Buguma city. This is an ominous beginning to the new year in Rivers state and a clear sign of what is ahead for Rivers people.
“Nigerians will do well to remember that it was the same 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 Horsfall’s courage and his conviction to disagree with the powers that be at that time, that made the case possible. Horsfall was never assaulted, attacked, or brutalised for his open confrontation with then Governor Omehia.
“Today, for daring to hold a different view, but for the grace of God, Hon. Horsfall, himself and several others could have died,” the statement noted.
He recalled that the 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 (GDI), then led by the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike.
Abe stated that at the time, the GDI was able to hold rallies in his hometown because he 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 to 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, the temptation and the belief that violence offers a short cut to the resolution of the situation in the party has become evident,” Abe stated.
The politician noted that he had been restrained in his reactions, in the belief that everybody cannot lose their heads at the same time, but stressed that the lack of effective response to the issues by the security agencies, is leading some criminals and their sponsors to the conclusion that they are above the law.
He warned that when the security agencies allow political crime to reign unchallenged, they should not be surprised when violent crimes ravage the society.
“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.
“The matter, like the previous cases before it, has again 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, because 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,” Abe stated.