There are emerging signals that the forthcoming elections in Cross River and Rivers states might not be peaceful afterall. Weeks before the election, there are already widespread violence in some parts of Cross River.
The APC and the PDP are trading accusations on those responsible for the violence. In Rivers State, however, things have not degenerated, but the gladiators are already calling out their supporters for a possible war.
The Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade who is the governorship candidate of the PDP had alleged that his opponent, Senator John Owan Enoh was stockpiling arms to wreak havoc and ordered the police to search the convoy of politicians during campaigns.
“I am asking the commissioner of police, you must stop and search the convoy to ensure that nobody other than the official people who are authorized to bear arms which are the police or the DSS or indeed civil defence, bear arms.
“Anybody in the governor's convoy or the candidate's convoy that is carrying arm that is not authorized is a criminal and must be treated as one. So, I now hereby as the chief security officer of the state, order the continuous and immediate search of all political convoys because the level of arm build-up from Cameroon is too huge and we must check it urgently before it becomes unbearable.”
The governor, director- general of the PDP campaign organization, Mr. Effiok Cobham, PDP Cross River Central Senatorial District candidate, Dr. Sandy Onor and other PDP stalwarts made the allegation when they paid a sympathy visit to two of their supporters who were injured in Etomi in Etung and are now receiving treatment at a private hospital in Calabar.
Ayade who said that he was not desperate to return as the governor in the March 2 gubernatorial election described the act as inhuman, barbaric and called on the law enforcement agencies to ensure that the perpetrators of the devilish act are brought to book.
In his words: “Cross River State is a state that is known for peace, it is a state that is known for good ambience, clean, green and warm people,” stressing that, “never in the history of Cross River State have we witnessed the orgy of violence that has befallen the state the way it has in the last one week.”
In the response to the allegation through a statement issued by the media spokesman for Senator Owan Enoh Campaign Organisation, Mr Dan Amor, APC and the candidate blamed the governor and his aides for the violence that had occurred in Obudu and Etomi in Etung Local Government Area of the state in the run up to the elections.
“We wish to state categorically that the governor's claims are tissues of lies for which his government is notorious, concocted as a ploy to unleash violence on the state as he has seen the handwriting on the wall that come rain, come shine, he would lose the election.
“A leader who is not known to have commissioned any verifiable project anywhere in the state except on billboards and media hypes would always whip up sentiments and employ primordial manipulations to cover up his monumental failures,” Owan-Enoh said.
Similarly, the party also said that security operatives duly authorised by their appropriate authorities accompanied the campaign team during the campaign tour which took the team across eleven local government areas in northern and central senatorial districts of the state and that there was no violence throughout the campaign.
The party said the incident in Etomi which was triggered by the destruction of campaign billboards of candidates of both parties was allegedly caused by Ayade's aide, and that the APC governorship candidate's campaign team which was in another town when the Etomi incident happened, had nothing to do with the violence.
“The APC in Cross River State does not bear arms neither is our governorship candidate involved in the stockpiling of arms as alleged by Governor Ben Ayade. We are law abiding citizens who are at liberty to go about our legitimate duty without molestation,” the party said.
In Rivers State, the governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike is already preparing the mind of his people to hit back at anyone who may want to cause violence during the election.
Incidentally, the APC campaigns DG for the Tonye Cole organisation, Dr Chidi Lloyd had recently issued similar war threats, when he said the APC would go for the jugular of anyone who dared them.
And last week, Wike who looked charged at Obua/Odual where he went for campaigns, said the people should be ready for a fight, if anybody tried to play funny.
"APC are afraid because they know that Atiku Abubakar will win fair and square. Therefore they are planning to use the security agencies and INEC to rig. It will not work.
"The only way to ensure that Atiku Abubakar and all PDP candidates emerge victorious is to protect all votes from the polling units to the collation centres.
"All they are doing is to cause crisis because they are not popular. We want free and fair elections.
"These elections, there will be no room for manipulation. If anyone hits you, hit back. Follow them bumper to bumper. APC is desperate, but we will not allow them".