•As gov withdraws approval for Atiku campaign venue

From Tony John, Port Harcourt

Governor Nyesom Wike has declared that  the Rivers State government would be compelled to deploy its  Neighbourhood Watch Safety Corps to maintain law and order, if the Nigeria Police continue to support some political parties to instigate violence in the state.

He noted with dismay  encouragements that the Rivers State Police Command has continued to give to some political actors to act lawlessly with their political activities.

 Wike also took a swipe at  Dakuku Peterside, the former Director General (DG) of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), whom he described as a political neophyte, for daring him to name his preferred presidential candidate.

He said: “Shameless politician. You had a position, yet  you cannot help your people. And  you’re coming out to open your mouth simply because  they did not give you second term to be the DG of NIMASA. You have guts to tell me I should name my presidential candidate. Are we at the same level. Failure and success, are they the same?. And let me also tell him, he does not understand the activities of G-5. I have told most people who don’t know,  this fight we are fighting is like a gruella warfare. The more you look, the less you see.”

He stated this at the State Primary School in Elekahia, venue of the Rivers State PDP Port Harcourt City LGA Campaign Flag-off Rally.

Wike said the command cannot support people who are breaking the law advising the State Police Command to rise to the occasion and safeguard the laws of the State in order to forestall a break down of law and order. 

Governor Wike accused some political actors of disobeying the statutory laws of the state and yet alleging that they are being stopped from campaigning.

The governor said nobody is stopping any political group from campaigning, but if such political campaigns must be done within any public facility, then the required non-refundable security fee of N5 million must be paid.

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Meanwhile, the state government has announced the withdrawal of venue for the PDP presidential  campaign rally in the state. 

Wike, had earlier approved the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium for Atiku Abubakar’s rally scheduled for February 11.

However, the state government through the Commissioner for Sports, Christopher Green,  issued a statement dated January 31, 2023, and addressed to the Director General, PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Aminu Tambuwal, announcing the withdrawal of the earlier approved venue.

Green, in the letter, said credible information available to the state government and recent developments had shown that the PCC is working in collaboration and in-cohort with a faction of the  APC in Rivers State led by Tonye Cole,  the governorship candidate of the party.

The state government noted the activities of the APC in Rivers State have always been marred by violence, and, therefore, government is unable to risk damage to or destruction of the stadium.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in Rivers, Leloonu Nwibubase, who confirmed the development said they were not surprised by the governor’s action.

He said they were aware that the approval earlier granted by the governor was a Greek gift insisting that they were not rattled by the development.

He was quoted as saying: “For us, I will say very clearly that the Presidential Campaign Council in Rivers State is not rattled at all. What has happened is not a surprise so we have our options on the table. 

“We will speak to the teeming PDP supporters and supporters of our presidential candidate in due course. We will continue with our campaign. We are very sure that the ultimate goal is for Rivers to vote Atiku Abubakar as their presidential candidate and that we will succeed. We will unveil our options”.