The political crisis rocking the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have claimed its first victim as an aide to the sacked chairman of the party, Chief Godspower Ake, Mr. Eric Ezenekwe, has been murdered.
The police have confirmed that Ezenkwe was killed Tuesday night in his village, Erema, in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Council Area of Rivers State but said it was not yet certain that his murder had anything to do with the political crisis.
The incident occurred as the state government once again raised the alarm over an alleged plot by some politicians in the state to create a false sense of insecurity in a bid to perfect a reason for the declaration of a state emergency in Rivers State.
Meanwhile the police have again sealed the secretariat of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council following the explosion that destroyed part of the complex less than an hour after the police vacated the place as a result of a court order.
THISDAY gathered that the slain Ezenekwe had returned to his house at about 11 pm only to be mobbed by the assassins who were lying in wait for him.
His in-law, Felix Akpa, told journalists via telephone that the assassins pounced on him and pushed him into his bedroom where they tied his hands, tortured him with electric wires before shooting him.
He disclosed that the deceased was alone in the house as his wife was hospitalised, while his three children and a pastor, who was living with him, were out.
He said the remains of Ezenekwe were discovered by his friend who had gone to the house that night to conclude arrangements for their trip to Port Harcourt the next day.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Angela Agabe, confirmed the death of Ezenekwe but said it was too early to link his death to the political crisis in the state as investigations were still ongoing.
Speaking to journalists in Port Harcourt Wednesday about the alleged plot to destabilise the state, Chief of Staff to Governor Chibuike Amaechi, Chief Tony Okocha, said part of the plan was for some politicians to burn their own houses and lay the blame on the government.
He said those behind the plot had started evacuating their property from their homes, with the intention of burning their houses down and placing the blame on the state government.
Okocha, who recalled that the state had enjoyed peace and order since Amaechi assumed office, however urged the people of the state to be alert and be aware of these plans and others.
He said: “The information reaching us right now is that enemies of Rivers State are planning so many things to cause disaffection in the state. As I’m talking to you now we have it on good authority that some of them are carting away property belonging to them in their respective homes to then set their residences on fire and then put it on the head of the Rivers State Government.
“We will like to let the people of Rivers State know that these are antics geared towards creating problems in Rivers State because they have always boasted that they will make sure that there is a state of emergency in the state.
“But we need to let the people know that these things are trumped up by enemies of Rivers State to destabilise the government.”
On why the police had to re-occupy the Obio/Akpor council, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mbu, said the action became necessary to protect lives and property within the council, saying it was in performance of his professional duties as a police officer.
Mbu said at a press briefing Wednesday at the state police headquarters, “I am carrying out my duties as a professional police officer and that is to maintain law and order in the state.
“We have no choice than to repossess that premises. We obeyed the court order, but because we have to protect government property from damage, we have to repossess the place.
“We are there right now; we are not going to allow anybody to go in or come out. The Nigeria Police cannot fold its arms and watch government property destroyed.”
Also, Mbu, who had been at the receiving end of Amaechi’s supporters and the state government for the crisis in the state, got some support Wednesday when hundreds of women protesters stormed the streets of Port Harcourt to show their support for the police commissioner.
The women insisted that the police boss should remain in the state as he was doing a good job. The women, under the aegis of Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM), clad in white blouses, sang solidarity songs round the main entrance of the police headquarters on Moscow Road.
They displayed placards accusing their counterparts who took to the streets on Tuesday of being hired to carry out the protest.
The five members of the State House of Assembly, who belong to the Felix Obuah group, addressed the women in front of the Government House, Port Harcourt.
One of them, Kelechi Godspower, (Omuma Constituency) said it was unnecessary calling for Mbu’s transfer, noting that the police commissioner had been on the side of justice and did not take sides with any political group.
Responding, Mbu said he would ensure that peace reigned in the state. Mbu, who was represented by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr. Godwin Wobodo, said his primary assignment was to protect the lives and property of the people, adding that he would continue to do so without distraction.
However, the Forum of PDP Local Government Area chapter chairmen has warned the Obuah-led state executive council of the party to desist from further tarnishing the image of the party in the state even as it said the council had no constitutional powers to dissolve them.
Addressing a press conference in Port Harcourt Wednesday, the chairman of the forum, Mr. Daere Samuel-Horsfall, said the chapter chairmen were in support of Ake, whom he said remained the authentic chairman of the party in the state.