Suspected loyalists of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday stormed the Rivers State High Court in Port-Harcourt, killing at least two persons and destroying court property estimated in millions of naira, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
The attackers breached the court security around 11 a.m. in violent bid to stop a judge from sitting on an interlocutory motion brought by a faction of the party in the state, said witnesses.
The injunction was sought by the faction said to be loyal to Magnus Abe, a serving APC senator from the state. Mr Abe’s faction has been sparring with the faction believed loyal to Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transport and immediate-past governor of the state, for the control of the party’s political structure.
Mr Amaechi’s faction is said to be in favour of allowing the party congresses proceed as scheduled for Saturday. But Mr Abe’s group was against this arrangement and sought a court order to overturn it.
Preliminary hearing on the injunction was slated for Friday morning, and Mr Amaechi’s loyalists reportedly got wind of the proceeding and decided to take a protest to the court.
Properties worth millions were believed to have been destroyed in a fracas that ensued after hoodlums from both sides clashed at the court’s premises.
Pictures circulated in the aftermath of the attack showed damaged vehicles and buildings.
The violence, however, failed to stop Chiwendu Nworgu, the presiding judge, from granting the injunction forbidding the congress from holding.
However, Chris Finebone, a spokesperson for the APC in the state, blamed Mr Abe’s faction for the violence and said the injunction would not stand.
“It is legal untenable for anyone to stop an action that is ongoing,” Mr Finebone told PREMIUM TIMES Friday evening about the scheduled exercise. “On that basis, principally, that injunction cannot stand.”
“We’re going ahead with the local government congresses tomorrow,” he emphasised.
Mr Finebone said Mr Abe’s loyalists were supported by members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to maximise the damage inflicted on the court and its officials.
The members loyal to Mr Amaechi “were at the court to register their displeasure at the way and manner the case was being handled,” the spokesperson said.
“Someone who has been suspended from the state working committee went to employ lawyers for the party and took a matter to court without the consent of the party chairman.
“Our men later got wind of the plan and went the to court to protest the travesty of justice that happened.
“It was when our members were protesting that the loyalists of Magnus Abe and some PDP thugs went to cause fracas,” he said.
Though the Rivers police spokesperson, Omoni Nnamdi, claims that some of those responsible have been identified, no arrest has been made