The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has accused Governor Chibuike Amaechi of masterminding the kidnap of three of its officials on Wednesday evening.
The state PDP Chairman, Chief Felix Obuah, who made the accusation during a press briefing in Port Harcourt yesterday, said the party officials were kidnapped at the residence of one the victims in Eagle Island area of the state capital.
He gave the names of those kidnapped as a former member of the House of Representative, Hon. Chinyere Igwe; Chairman of the PDP in Port Harcourt Local Government Area, Mr. Ikechi Chinda; and a party stalwart, Mr. Alwell Ihunda.
Obuah said the party officials were abducted by unknown gunmen about 8p.m. on Wednesday, February 26, adding that the party believes that the kidnap was masterminded by Amaechi and the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government in Rivers.
According to Obuah, “After a careful examination of the circumstances surrounding this abduction of our party leaders, the party believes that the kidnap was masterminded by Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the APC-led government in the state.
“We are shocked that Governor Amaechi is playing politics with the security of the lives and property in the state, thereby branding his political opponents his worst enemies.
“This level of desperation to hold on to power recently displayed by Governor Amaechi shows clearly that he can do anything in order to control the resources of the state.”
Obuah threatened that PDP members would take to the streets if the abducted party officials were not released within 72 hours.
“We (PDP) give Governor Amaechi 72 hours to ensure that the abducted PDP members are released unhurt. At the expiration of this deadline, the PDP shall mobilise its members and the good citizens of the state to stage the mother of all protests against the Governor Amaechi’s terrorist tactics,” Obuah stated.
He called on security agencies not to allow themselves to be used by Governor Amaechi to execute his “evil acts and design”, adding that, “As a political party, we will by no means tolerate the oppression or victimisation of any of our members for whatever political reason.”
The state PDP chairman expressed regret that less than two weeks after the redeployment of the former Police Commissioner in the state, Joseph Mbu, the state was witnessing such high profile kidnap.
In an answer to a question, Obuah said the party was sure that the governor knew about the abduction. “There were seven people drinking at the same place, why was it that only three of our (PDP members were the ones kidnapped?” Obuah asked rhetorically.
The state Commissioner of Police, Tunde Ogunsakin, confirmed the incident, saying his men had been mobilised to rescue the kidnap party officials and apprehend the culprits.
Ogunsakin stated that his command has zero tolerance for crime and repeated his earlier warning while assuming duties as the state police commissioner about two weeks ago that all criminals in the state should relocate or face dire consequences.
“We (Police) are aware of the incident and we are on it. Our men have been mobilised to investigate and apprehend the perpetrators. I hereby assure residents of the state to go about their lawful business, as we shall continue to guarantee their safety and that of their property,” Ogunsakin said.
But in a swift reaction, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, condemned the kidnap but upbraided the PDP for playing politics with the lives of the people.
“It is unfortunate that the PDP in Rivers State has become so insensitive that they play politics with the lives of their members. The Rivers State Government condemns the kidnap of three men and pleads with the Commissioner of Police to kindly use his good offices to find them and apprehend the culprits who have done this evil,” Semenitari said.
Meanwhile, the APC in the state has threatened to sue Obuah over his allegation.
In a statement issued yesterday by the Senior Special Adviser on Media to the state APC Chairman, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, the APC said it was unfortunate that Obuah would accuse Amaechi and the leadership of APC of involvement in the kidnap of its members.
The statement said: “We consider this allegation not only very unfortunate but unbecoming of a fellow who claims to be a leader!”
“Those who know the antecedents of Amaechi and the Rivers State Government under his watch should know that one thing that is noted about him is his abhorrence and hatred for violent acts including the unholy acts of kidnapping and militancy and if we can recall his govt did everything humanly possible to eradicate the menace of militancy and kidnapping from Rivers State and he succeeded until the likes of Obuah came on board promoting both militancy and kidnapping in the state! This fact is well known to any follower of events in Rivers State!
“And for Obuah who brought back insecurity in Rivers State to turn around to accuse Governor Amaechi for an act he abhors so much is very unfortunate!
“We urge Obuah to apologise to Amaechi within 48 hours or else we will sue him to enable him state the facts of this unwarranted allegation.”
Eze said Obuah should assist the police to unravel this issue as he knew those they promote and aide in the art of kidnapping and militancy and leave Amaechi to concentrate on governance.
“Finally, let us state unequivocally that we don’t know anything about this and we will never be involved in any act that will bring sorrow to even our greatest political enemy or enemies talk less of aiding kidnapping of any Rivers State son. We urge the Police to investigate Obuah and find out from him why and how these people were kidnapped as both the Rivers State Government and APC Leadership have nothing to do with this.” Eze said.