Last Monday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State held a procession in Port Harcourt, the state capital, which ended with a memorial service at the Port Harcourt Polo Club for victims of violence and murders in Rivers before, during and after the last general elections. Called the Black Day, the procession was led by the APC governorship candidate in the state at the polls, Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, who was accompanied by other APC leaders in the state including Sen. Magnus Abe; Chief Andrew Uchendu, the state party Chairman, Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, and Asita H. Asita. Speaker after speaker at the occasion decried the violence, which they claimed had continued. As a matter of fact, they claimed that some APC members were violently attacked on their way to the procession.
Peterside, who is contesting the result of the governorship election which produced PDP Nyesom Wike, in court spoke to journalists on the significance of the event and their quest for justice for victims of the violence.
How do you rate the turn out for the Black Day procession for persons killed during the last elections?
The turn out was excellent; you could see the number of people who came out on the streets and at the memorial service itself, and going by their turn out, I believe Rivers people have made a statement. They are saying ‘no’ to political violence, kidnapping and politically motivated assassinations.
We thought that at the end of the election in April, we would have come to the end of this matter but, unfortunately, the violence has continue in different dimensions and has manifested itself in form of kidnapping, armed robbery and more assassinations because those persons who were armed by the self-centred, evil politicians have not been disarmed and so we have continued with the same experience as the present Rivers government lacks the political will and the moral right to attack the issue.
What kind of responses or solidarity have you had from people outside the state on this issue?
FILE: Black Monday Protest March in Commemoration of the sad and gruesome death of Rivers people during the General elections.
The responses we have gotten across the country confirm that Nigerians are in solidarity and in sympathy with the people of Rivers on what we have gone through during the elections and what we are still going through. The Nigerian people are concerned that Rivers has remained a black spot in our democratic development and they have condemned in totality the level of violence visited on the people of state who were only trying to cast their votes in exercise of their democratic rights and the prayer of every right thinking Nigerian is that this should never happen again in our political development
There were reports that several persons, especially from your party, were attacked on their way to the procession and the memoriam service. How true is this?
Yes, our people were attacked. People were attacked in Abonema and I was reliably informed that a top LGA official led the team that attacked several of our members there. We had the same experience in Omuma,Etche and Ikwerre Local Government Areas. It is unfortunate and I know that these attackers cannot escape the long arms of the law. They have refused to admit the fact that times have changed and the days of impunity and lawlessness are gone. We have drawn the attention of security agencies at the highest level to it and I am convinced they are doing something.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Rivers State has accused you and your party, APC, of playing politics with the lives of Rivers people who died during the elections. Also some PDP leaders and Rivers State government officials claim that the deaths were mostly cult-related and had nothing to do with the elections.
It is most uncharitable for the PDP to say that those who lost their lives during the elections died in cult related activities. Wh