Suspected loyalists of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday stormed the Rivers State High Court in Port-Harcourt, killing at least two persons and destroying court property estimated in millions of naira.
The attackers breached the court security around 11 a.m. in violent bid to stop a judge from sitting on an interlocutory motion brought by a faction of the party in the state.
The injunction was sought by the faction said to be loyal to Magnus Abe, a serving APC senator from the state. Mr Abe’s faction has been sparring with the faction believed loyal to Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transport and immediate-past governor of the state, for the control of the party’s political structure.
Before the ward congress last Saturday, court had served a motion on notice on the APC, but the leader of the party in the state and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had denied knowledge of such notice.
It will be recalled thaton Thursday, the court had sat to hear the motion on notice as presented by the counsel for the faction of the APC loyal to Senator Abe seeking to stop the planned LG congress of today.
To forestall the breakdown of law and order, operatives from the Federal-Special Anti-robbery Squad, F-SARS, and operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS, shot into the air to disperse protesters of both factions of the party.
The security agents also released tear-gas canisters to disperse protesters who were members of a faction of the APC loyal the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi who had earlier stormed the court premises.
Shortly after the shooting died down, Justice Chiwendu Nwogu, who delivered judgment on the motion on notice, barred the APC from going on with the congress and adjourned till 26th of June for hearing.
One of the counsels for the applicants, Henry Bellow said: “I am counsel for the members of the APC who were unconstitutionally excluded from participating in the purported congress even after they had satisfied the conditions precedence to their participation in the congress according to APC guidelines.
“They paid money for nomination forms. They paid but got to APC secretariat, it was locked only to hear winners have emerged in the congress and it is against the constitution of the party.”
Meanwhile, Cuturu Eddeh, the counsel for the APC, who was sent from the party’s national office to take over the matter, accused the state legal adviser of the party, Mr. Chiwikpe Chieme of professional misconduct, adding that he (Chiwikpe) does not have the mandate to represent APC on the matter.
“This matter was brought to Port Harcourt from Bori on Monday. Him (Chiwikpe) coming to say he represented the APC is wrong. He went there and made damaging comments and representation of APC. The chairman of the party did not instruct him to stand in for the matter. I have a letter from the national party to represent the party. He knows the implication of that.
“Chiwikpe does not have the right to represent the APC and make any submission on its behalf; he has been suspended by the party since last year.”