Explosions Target APC Rally in Southern NigeriaFebruary 17, 2015 in Nigeria
On Tuesday, five explosions followed by a burst of gunfire targeted an opposition rally in the town of Okrika, which is located in the southern oil producing Rivers state. The town is home to Patience Jonathan, the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to eyewitnesses and local officials, Tuesday’s attack targeted the rally of main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), governorship aspirant Dakuku Peterside, which was held at a school in Okrika, a small port town located south of Port Harcourt. The incident occurred as members of the APC were reportedly waiting for their leaders to arrive at the venue. Several people were wounded in the attack, which forced people to flee the rally amidst fears that further explosions would occur. According to officials, APC party Governor Rotimi Amaechi was not present at the rally.
While it was not immediately clear who was responsible for the incident, Governor Amaechi has blamed the attack on the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), stating, “it is intimidation. They don’t want people to come out and vote because they’ll know they’ll lose.” The PDP spokesman for Rivers state, Emmanuel Okah, has stated that the incident was a clash between rival “cultists” – Nigerian university gangs that combine occult rituals with criminal activities.
In the lead up to the presidential elections, which are now set to take place on 28 March, Rivers state has been targeted by several bomb blasts. However none of them have been fatal. On Monday, the Nigerian Human Rights Commission disclosed that at least 58 people have been killed in pre-election violence across Nigeria.
The elections have been postponed from 14 February to 28 March over security concerns in the northeastern region of the country, where Nigerian troops, along with regional forces, are battling Boko Haram militants.