There were confusion and pandemonium yesterday, as Senator Annie Okonkwo escaped assassination during a rally of the Accord Party (AP) in Anambra state even as his attacker was allegedly shot dead.
Daily Champion gathered that trouble started when thugs suspected to belong to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) invaded the place and started shouting that they would vote APGA and no other party.
An eyewitness, Mr Obi Ochije told Daily Champion that the incident was avoidable:. He said: “Awka youths don’t want this kind of disruption of political campaigns by hooligans. We want peaceful campaigns by candidates and tolerance must be the watch word of the candidates”.
“I don’t know why anybody should hire thugs to disrupt another candidate’s campaign not to talk of attacking a candidate. You won’t believe that Senator Okonkwo narrowly escaped being killed. His shirt was cut at the hand when the attacker wanted to kill him”.
Ochije further expressed dismay that the incident would be happening at a time a candidate Hon Emma Uchieze, incumbent member of the House of Representatives in company of Senator Annie Okonkwo, both candidates of Accord Party in the April elections were at the market.
He thanked Hon Uchieze for donating a borehole to the market to be drilled within one week and Senator Okonkwo for bringing a transformer and N1 million for installation of electricity which the area did not have.
He warned that Awka youths and community would not tolerate such again, since political campaigns should be issue based.
Director of the Senator Annie Okonkwo campaign organization, Chief Joe-Martins Uzodike, said Okonkwo was at the market on invitation invited to address the traders after he donated a new transformer to the market last week.
He said: “We were about to address the traders when the thug brought out a machete to stab Okonwo; he was prevented by security people and the machete slightly touched the senator.”
Daily Champion gathered that security tried to stop him to no avail.
However, the Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka, said no one was killed in any of the incidents.
Chukwuemeka said: “In all these two locations, police was not pre-informed to provide security. They should inform us 48 hours ahead of time so that police security will be provided”.
“They asked the Senator to go round and acknowledge cheers from the crowd which he obliged. However, immediately the Senator came to assume his seat and prayers were being offered, a violent mob of about fifty persons stormed the arena chanting APGA solidarity songs.
“We thought this was just an indulgence of misdirected excitement which we gave some time to abate. The security details provided by the COP, Anambra State and the State Director of SSS, maturely intervened to request the mob to note that this was an Accord Party engagement and they should oblige them by taking their exit. The mob obviously acting out a script refused to be persuaded by reason or common sense, rather they chose to exacerbate the melodrama with a streak of lunacy.
“The obvious leader of this lunatic mob moved swiftly and unleashed his killer weapon; a scary double edged cutlass and sprinted menacingly toward the Senator who was sitting calmly waiting for the intruders to leave.
“First, the security operative who gallantly tried to stop this daring assailant was met with a merciless cut on his shoulder as he headed straight for the Senator.
“A swing of the cutlass meant for the Senator’s forehead was decisively deflected by the orderly’s gun. The impact and velocity of the assailant’s cutlass was such that the bridge of the gun caved in, and the life of the Senator was saved by this singular distinctive gallantry. The senator miraculously escaped with a cut on his left hand, and was quickly spirited away from the scene by a wall of body guards, policemen, SSS operatives, and a wall of the enraged traders’ army.”