A good number of party supporters and suspected thugs are reported to have been arrested over political violence in the ongoing electioneering period in Cross River State.
There have been reported destruction of property belonging to opposing political camps in the state, as well as many physical attacks leading to deaths and hospitalisation.
As at last week, the two leading political parties in the state paraded lists of key political dignitaries said to have been pencilled down for elimination before the election date.
There are also reported heavy militarisation of the election in especially the two senatorial districts.
Retired military and police officers are alleged to be arming illegal policemen and soldiers to intimidate opposing camps.
AIG Jonathan Towuru of zone six Calabar had warned that they will use iron fist to treat political miscreants during the elections.
At a news conference in Calabar, Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Cross River State, Alphonsus Eba said they are going to vehemently resist retired military and police officers from taking over and intimidating his members and voters.
He listed names of very senior Air Force officers, including AVM Clement Okpeche, AIG Joseph Mbu, among others, claiming they allegedly sponsored detachments of soldiers and heavy guns to attack and intimidate APC members.
Eba claimed these had accounted for the reason they lost the Cross River North Senatorial election to PDP, which they are challenging at the law court.
He alleged that the PDP members are masterminding violence.
“We are going to resist any attempts by a group of retired military personnel to militarise the gubernatorial election across the state.
“This time around, we are ready and prepared to rise against any forms of intimidation.
“I have written petitions to both the Inspector General of Police and Chief of Air Staff against their retired men for action,” he said.
Responding, chairman of the PDP in the state, Venatius Ikem rejected the allegation that his party and key leaders have been very violent.
Ikem said the APC chairman was crying out of frustration arising from his party’s monumental loss.
“We are not violent like his Party. They unleashed violence on us during the Senate Primaries. We didn’t respond, except by defeating them.
“They again unleashed violence on us during the House of Representatives by-elections for Ogoja/ Yala federal constituency elections. They enjoyed a pyrrhic victory for about 12 months and we went back to the drawing board, blocked all avenues for violence by mobilising adequate security and they were thoroughly beaten despite the incumbent governor being on the ballot. What else do you expect him to do apart from crying?”
The PDP boss maintained that they are formidable in Cross River North.
Ikem went on to add that PDP has the courage to stand unfavourable political seasons and know how to work to change the tide.
He said they enjoy being abused by APC, saying their abuses spur them to victory.
Also reacting, AIG Joseph Mbu (rtd), denied establishing and arming illegal police in his Abia community of Etung LGA in Cross River State.
Mbu said in an interview that as a very senior and retired police officer, he usually received even serving police officers from Abuja and elsewhere who stopped over to see him.
“As a result of my presence and contributions, my community is adjudged to be the safest place, so that you can forget a pin and still return to pick it.
“My accusers are merely afraid because I stand for the truth and block many from cornering proceeds from community cocoa plantations,” he added.
Cautioning against further bloodletting in parts of the state, a senior citizen and good governance advocate, Sir Nandi Peter Bette raised the alarm over the tension, myriad of death threats and fears of violence ahead of this weekend’s governorship and House of Assembly elections.
The senior citizen cautioned against arming youths to eliminate local leaders.
Bette warned that all those fanning embers of violence and bloodshed should desist else they will not know peace.
“The alarm of impending violence being raised by political camps in the state over the forthcoming Governorship /House of Assembly elections are as irritating, repulsive as they are shameful,” he stated.
He advised that elections should not and must not be a do or die affair, adding that there have been elections before this generation, and there will still be elections after this generation.
“Whoever causes disturbances leading to bloodshed in the state during these elections will never know peace,” he warned.