Simon Onu, the driver of an Outside Broadcasting Van (OB Van) from Bayelsa owned-radio station, Glory FM, has been killed in pre-election violence that rocked Nembe during the campaign rally of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday.
Several persons were also feared dead and several others are still missing as many people scampered for safety.
There have been recriminations from both the PDP and its main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on who might be responsible for the shooting.
Fidelis Soriwei, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Seriake Dickson, who confirmed the death of Onu, blamed the incident on the activities of APC thugs.
Several stalwarts of the party also accused the APC of instigating the crisis in Nembe to prevent the PDP from campaigning when the party had provided a condusive atmosphere for the APC to campaign even in Governor Seriki’s Dickson’s Sagbama Local Government Area.
An eyewitness account characterised the encounter as a war scene, with heavy shooting by unidentified armed men rocked the King Koko Square, venue of the PDP governorship campaign.
Some reporters covering the rally were also caught in the crossfire, with many others sustaining various degrees of injury. Governor Seriake Dickson was billed to attend the rally in company with the candidate of the party, Senator Douye Diri.
Soriwei in a Facebook post said thugs led by some APC leaders fired at members of the PDP in a bid to prevent the gubernatorial rally of the party.
“The attackers also opened fire at the protocol bus of the Bayelsa State Government House at a junction between Bassambiri and Ogbolomabiri,” he said.
“One of the PDP members died of gunshot injuries while several others sustained serious injuries and have been rushed to the hospital.”
However, the Director-General, Timire Sylva Support Organisation, Wilfred Ogbotobo, said that the PDP members were the aggressors, adding that the party leaders invaded the community with thugs to chase away members of the rival APC.
Ogbotobo said some APC members were injured in the attack, wondering why the campaign held in Nembe when the party rounded off their rallies with a grand finale in Yenagoa.
The spokesperson of the Nembe Chiefs Council, Chief Nengi James, said there was a clash between rival supporters of the PDP and the APC in Nembe, which resulted in injuries.
“I can confirm that supporters of the PDP and the APC clashed in Nembe with some persons, sustaining various degrees of injuries; but, however, no death has been recorded,” he said.
A prominent indigene of the area and former senator representing Bayelsa East senatorial district, Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange, has also condemned in its entirety the act of provocation and violence unleashed on the community supposedly by supporters of the PDP.
In his statement, Chief Senator Nimi Barigha-Amangi noted that the approved venue for the PDP rally was King Koko Square, and instead of going about their normal business of the day, they went about chanting war songs around the community, terrorising and molesting innocent people
Chief Barigha-Amange said that the incident was uncalled for, as other parties had used the same venue for their rallies, which were peaceful and free of rancour, he stated.
The ex-Senator warned that no individual should hide under any political platform to breach the already existing peace and harmonious relationship amongst the people in Nembe.
He called on the various security authority in the area to redouble their efforts in stopping troublemakers from further disturbing the peace of Nembe in the name of politics, saying no group would be allowed to overrun the town.