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The Government of Ebonyi State has denied ordering the police to disrupt the rally in Abakaliki organised by supporters of the Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi, on Saturday.
Obi supporters had prepared and gathered for a one-million-man march at the People’s Club area of the Town when Policemen arrived in vans and teargassed them as the rally was about to begin.
The state government has denied giving the policemen the directives to disrupt the rally, adding that a venue was proposed to them by its agencies but the organisers refused to pay the fee of N4 million.
After refusing to pay the supposed fee, the organisers opted for three other locations for the rally, two venues located at the front of the Pastoral Centre while the Peoples Club was deemed the third venue.
The Organisers speculated that the state government had intended to disrupt the rally because they refused to use the suggested venue.
Some of the Supporters said: “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.”
The youths later went ahead with the rally, marching around the Abakaliki metropolis despite the disruption as they were escorted by the policemen.
The Labour Party’s Chairman, Ebonyi state, Simplicity Jioke, through a telephone call, as she was busy coordinating the rally said: “We are not happy with the disruption.”
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.”
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.”
Source: The Nation