Politics: Police teargas Obi supporters in Ebonyi Daily Parrot

The Ebonyi State Government has denied disrupting a rally organized by supporters of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in Abakaliki yesterday. According to the state government, agencies of the government approved a venue for the exercise, but the supporters refused to pay the required fee. Reports said pandemonium broke out in Abakaliki yesterday while Obi’s supporters gathered for their one-million-man march at the People’s Club area of the town.

Special Assistant on Media and Strategy to Governor Dave Umahi Chooks Oko, in a statement, said “For record purposes, the relevant government agencies had approved the use of Abakaliki township stadium for a rally by the Labour Party subject to the payment of some specified fees. Rather than pay the fees, it was gathered, the organizers chose to empty into the streets causing some untold hardships on the hapless citizens going about their daily pursuits.”

Following their decision not to pay the alleged N4million fee for the stadium, organizers of the rally opted for three new venues as meeting points. The three venues are in front of Pastoral Centre and nearby Nkwegu Ugbala Events Centre along the old Ogoja highway while the Peoples Club was the third proposed venue. Sources however claimed that Policemen in patrol vans arrived as the rally was about to commence. Tear gases were fired by the policemen even as the crowd retreated into the Pastoral Centre.

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This development caused panic among the youths with many of them scampering away from the premises into adjourning streets like G-hostel, Mile 50 road, Kpirikpiri road, among others. The organizers accused the state government of masterminding the attack by the police in a bid to stop the rally. “Peter Obi is our next President. This rally must hold. See them shooting tear gas directly at us. They are shooting directly into the Church,’ some of them were heard saying.

However, the youths soon regrouped and still continued with the rally. The Police and other security agencies later escorted the crowd to march round Abakaliki metropolis. In telephone chat, the Chairman of LP, Ebonyi State, Simplicity Jioke, who was busy with coordinating the rally said: “We are not happy with the disruption.”

Responding to the allegations, Oko said, “The Executive Governor of Ebonyi state is certainly not aware of any disruption of any gathering as he didn’t order any. He is a democrat who believes firmly in the rule of law. He wishes every contending politician the very best and will insist on a level playing ground for all. If it is true that the police dispersed people, the answer will surely rest with the police.”

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