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Monday, March 30, 2015

GTCO Condemns Police Attack On Protesting Rivers Women



GTCO condemns police attack on protesting Rivers women

The police in Rivers State have been condemned for violently attacking thousands of women who assembled on Monday to protest against the conduct of last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections. The police action has therefore, been described as debasing of womanhood and an affront on motherhood. “The police action debases womanhood and an insult on the African culture of respect for women. All those women tear-gassed by the police were people’s wives and mothers who deserved all respect”, a statement by the Greater Together Campaign Organisation, GTCO, signed by Ibim Semenitari, Director of Communications, on Monday stated in part.

GTCO, which is the campaign outfit for Dr. Dakuku Adol Peterside, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State, said it was part of the Federal Government’s systematic plan to impose dictatorship on the state. “Those Rivers women had the right to protest, and after all, there were no elections in Rivers State. So, their protest was part of their democratic rights and the clampdown by the police is an extension of the ongoing program to muzzle Rivers State and appropriate her commonwealth. Our people are more civilised to be muzzled as REC Khan and PDP would want. We condemn this, and call for unreserved apologies for this assault on our women”.


The statement blamed the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mrs. Gesila Khan, for the women’s action, saying that had she carried out her duties impartially, the women would not have had reason to take to the streets. “The REC should be held accountable for all electoral killings and crises so far recorded in Rivers State. Had the REC been professional and impartial in her duties and conducted elections in Rivers State accordingly, our women would not have taken to the streets. But because she abandoned the job she was sent to Rivers to do, by compromising her job, people now have no option than to speak out against her”.

It might interest people to know that thousands of women turned up to protest the alleged irregularities they claimed marred the March 28 Presidential and National Assembly elections. The women led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Joeba West, Hon.  Maureen Tamuno and Hon. Victoria Nyeche, drawn from the 23 local government areas of the state, had intended to march to the headquarters office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Port Harcourt to present a letter to the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mrs. Gesila Khan.

The women, dressed in all-black attire and carrying placards with various inscriptions that condemned the alleged malpractices that characterised the polls, and calling for fresh polls, had gathered at the St. John’s Terminus along Aba Road from where they headed to INEC office. However, just a few metres away from the kick-off point, lorry loads of heavily-armed anti-riot policemen, moved in several police vehicles, took positions to abort the movement.

Before the women commenced the march, the leaders had told journalists that they were embarking on the protest to register their grievances over the manner in which INEC had handled the entire election. “We were denied the chance to vote for candidates of our choice. They used the police and other armed groups to take away election materials”, Hon. Tamuno told the journalists. Hon. Tamuno, who said the women would not accept the elections as conducted in Rivers State last Saturday, and its outcome, showed journalists her wounded Personal Assistant, PA. “You can see the bruised body of my PA(Personal Assistant). She was battered by PDP thugs last Saturday even as they did not allow us to vote. There was no election in my area. That is part of our grievance. We want to make our complaints to INEC and demand fresh elections in Rivers State”, Tamuno added.

The women, who were very peaceful in their conduct, were, however, confronted by the policemen who ordered them to disperse. The police order sort of angered the women who insisted on continuing with the protest. The police detachment, led by two officers in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, barricaded the Waterlines Junction along Aba Road. The police action angered the women who, however, engaged the officers in an argument.  Not convinced at the reason given by the women, the police officers directed the women to select two of their leaders to go to INEC with their grievances. Police opened tear gas canisters on the women leading to stampede leading to some of the women sustaining injuries.

~
Ibim Semenitari
Director of Communications
Greater Together Campaign Organisation

Monday, March 30, 2015.

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