The Cross River State wing of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has deified a police order barring them from holding the flag-off rally in Calabar on Saturday, February 19.
At the wee hours of today, a crack team of security personnel comprising the army, civil defence and police stormed Calabar Sports Club, the venue of the PDP campaign flag-off, in twenty-five Hilux vans and one Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) barricaded the entrance.
The Cross River State Command Police Commissioner, Aminu Alhassan, confirmed that he ordered the barricade to forestall the breakdown of law and order since the two parties are holding political activities simultaneously.
At the venue, thousands of party supporters and stalwarts who trooped to the venue raised the alarm over the move to stop them from exercising their democratic right to hold rallies.
Not prepared to let go of the political activities today, the supporters pushed their way through the exit gates into the venue dancing and chanting PDP-power-to-the-people.
As of 3:00 pm, the venue was already filled up with lots of dignitaries including the three Senators, Reps members, House of Assembly members, former governor Imoke, National Woman leader in attendance.
But sources close to the party leadership confided in our correspondent that the NASS members had pulled the strings by contacting the police highest authourities in Abuja who ordered the Cross River State Police Command Commissioner to withdraw their men and allow the party to hold their event.
Welcoming the party members at the event, Efiok Cobham, Esq, lashed out at the APC-led government for attempting to stop PDP’s rally even when most APC members have benefitted immensely from PDP between 1999 and 2021.
Cobham, former Deputy Governor in the Governor Liyel Imoke administration and one of the governorship aspirants, said: “We applied to use the U. J. Esuene Stadium, which was built by PDP government in 1999, they refused, we applied to use MDI field they denied us and we now secured a private venue, Calabar sports Club, the APC government, tacitly using police, tried to stop us again.
It is very unfortunate because the election has not even started and they are declaring indirect war on PDP in the state. We shall not in any way be intimidated by these subtle threats.
The country has gone beyond one single individual just as democracy has come to stay. We are not afraid to engage in legal political campaigns.
What has happened today and the turnout in spite of the harassment are clear demonstrations that Cross River is a PDP state. And we are getting it back in 2023.
Also speaking, the former party chairman, Ntufam Ekpo Okon, said the party has come to stay in Cross River, alleging that APC tried to use the security to weaken the massive supporters who came out to campaign for their candidates ahead of Saturday, February 26 legislative by-election.
At the time of this report, the NASS members and some party bigwigs had moved down to Magaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar to receive the PDP governors who are special guests of honour in the rally.
The governors expected at the rally are Governors Nyesom Wike, Udom Emanuel and Samuel Orom of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Benue state, respectively.