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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

#WAR: Despite Peace Moves. WIKE Seals Hotels & Filling Stations Belonging To Atiku’s Supporters In Rivers.

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The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has taken a new dimension following the purported clampdown on some loyalists of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the party, in Rivers State.

The leadership of the party has been making efforts to reconcile Governor Nyesom Wike, who lost the presidential ticket and suffered another loss in his bid to be considered running mate to the party’s presidential flagbearer.

The PDP Presidential Candidate had chosen Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate, saying he was comfortable working with him.

After the choice of Okowa was made public, Wike distanced himself from Atiku and started associating with chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who not only paid him solidarity visits but commissioned projects he executed.

But sensing the effect of the rift on the party’s fortunes in next year’s election, the PDP leadership swung into action by initiating a peace move.

On Friday, the reconciliation teams of Atiku and Wike met in Rivers. Despite this, hotels, filling stations and some business places of some Atiku’s associates are still under lock in the state.

Recently, there was tension in Port Harcourt when Wike warned residents against patronising hotels, leisure places and filling stations allegedly owned by people involved in oil bunkering.

The governor had threatened that his administration would pull down any hotel used to host any political meetings that would be attended by cultists and other criminal elements in the state.

Hours after he said this, security operatives invaded Priscy Bar located at the popular Elekaha area of Port Harcourt, and another hotel located at the Eagle Island area of the state capital, and arrested some customers before the places were sealed.

The hotel and Bar are owned by Ikechi Chinda and Jones Ogbonda, who are associates of Hon. Austin Opara, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Opara and Wike have been involved in a cold war over what has been ascribed to the former’s romance with the PDP presidential candidate.

Weeks back, Wike had removed Opara as the leader of PDP in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area.

A filling station belonging to Hon. Chiyere Igwe, member representing Port Harcourt Constituency 2 at the lower chamber of the National Assembly, was sealed over alleged involvement in oil bunkering.

The Governor later directed the security agencies to arrest Igwe on the allegation of his link to oil bunkering activities.

The Governor while giving the directive said government would ensure the prosecution of the owner of the filling station to demonstrate the resolve to reduce illegal oil bunkering activities in the State to the barest minimum.

But responding, Igwe, who is also a close associate of Opara, said he was being victimised because he and Opara were associating with Atiku.

Commenting on the purported clampdown on Atiku’s men, Senator Ledogo Maeba, former Chairman of the Board of Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumola, said the governor dissolved the board of the polytechnic because of his closeness to Atiku. However, he vowed to keep supporting Atiku.

He said, “We have a candidate of the party who has the capacity to lead Nigeria out of crisis. So, nothing can deter us from supporting Atiku to save Nigeria. Wike is not hiding that he is fighting Atiku. He is ready to fight to the finish. We don’t know what he (Wike) is planning to do because when campaigns start, we are qualified to campaign too. We are waiting to see how he will do it. This is a joke taken too far.”

Maeba also confirmed the removal of former Governor Celestine Omehia and Opara as leaders of their party in Ikwerre and Port Harcourt LGAs respectively.

Meaba added, “Yes, he (Wike) called them before their people because we went to pay a solidarity visit to Atiku which we are supposed to do. All of us knew Atiku before him. Austin Opara has been in the House of Representatives since 1999. He was the deputy speaker when Atiku was vice-president. That time, Wike was struggling to be a local government chairman. So, if Austin Opara has to take permission from him today to go and see Atiku, then something is wrong.

“Let me tell you something. When you apportion so much right to yourself, then you are superhuman. Austin Opara was the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives when Atiku Abubakar was the Vice President. They attended caucus meeting together and National Economic Council Meeting. So, does it mean that Austin Opara, who has been friends with Atiku for over 20 years ago, will now start to beg Wike to go and see Atiku? I met Atiku first in 1992 in Jos for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) campaigns. We started working together in 2003 when I became senator. That time where was he (Wike)? When Austin Opara was working with Atiku, holding meetings, Wike was struggling to come into limelight.

But responding in a public address where he vowed to fight whoever challenges his system, Wike said it does not matter how long someone has known another person, but the value he/she has added to the person.

If anybody fights our system, we will fight the person back. Let me tell you what you don’t understand in politics. The moment you claim to be working with us and tomorrow, you shift to our enemy, we will use every might we have against you. We would even leave our enemy and finish you. So all of you who are going to Abuja to hold meetings with our enemies, I will finish you. You can’t come here get contracts, make money, then go to Abuja to work against us and think I will leave you? I will not. I’m not a born again to that level. I’m a Christian, but not a born again to that level. If you touch me or any of my people, you will see the war.”

Some Port Harcourt residents told our reporter said that they were afraid going to relaxation spots.

A resident, Okenna Chukwu, said people make inquiries on the owner of a leisure place or filling station before patronising such business outfits.

“Yes this is what Port Harcourt has turned into now. Hope you are aware of the governor’s recent broadcast where he threatened to pull down hotels , leisure places hosting meetings suspected to be attended by criminals. So many of us are afraid to go to hotels and leisure places for outing. Government agencies may raid a hotel they feel belong to their political enemies and brand whoever they found there a criminal,” he said.

Another resident, who pleaded anonymity said, “this fight may get dirtier so one has be be careful on which hotel , bar or filling station to go. This politicians are very deadly they may plant so incriminating substance in a particular place and anybody that is caught within the perimeter of the area may become an accomplice. They may even arrange some criminal gangs to go their and cause some fracas and anybody that is found with the area would become a suspect.

Kelvin Ebiri, Wike’s media aide, had not responded to inquiries on the development at the time of filing this report.

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