An explosion and gunshots which rocked the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate’s office in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, left at least three persons injured.
About 7.30p.m. on Tuesday, gunmen, who arrived in a car, threw a dynamite into the premises of the office of the party’s governorship candidate, Nsima Ekere, before opening fire on the hapless APC members and supporters.
It was learnt that a training programme for APC agents for Saturday’s Governorship and House of Assembly elections was one of the activities going on when the attackers struck.
Blood littered the premises after the incident.
Witnesses said the attackers arrived in a commando style and sped off before security operatives on the premises could return fire.
When journalists visited the victims in the hospital, two of them were in critical conditions.
The third victim, Mrs. Uduak Sunday, from Uyo, sustained a wound on her right leg.
She said she had left the premises to purchase an item and that when she returned, she saw the attackers throwing an object (later discovered to be dynamite) into the campaign grounds, before shooting indiscriminately.
According to her, in the ensuing bedlam, she was trampled upon by the fleeing crowd.
She said: “I fell down. The next thing, I found myself here in hospital.”
One of the victims, Mr. Ndifreke Akpan, from Nsit Atai Local Government Area, who was unconscious at the hospital, was to serve as APC agent during the polls on Saturday.
Doctors did not reveal the identity of the last victim as they were reportedly battling to extract a bullet from his body.
A witness, Mr. Nsikak Etim Okon, said he accompanied police officers who brought victims to the hospital.
Okon, who hails from Nsit Atai, said the victims were first taken to Saint Luke’s Hospital, Anua.
He added that Ndifreke Akpan, who was shot in the leg, was a committed member of the APC.
Reacting to the attack, the APC Campaign Council in Akwa Ibom, in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, described the attack as “another desperate attempt by the Peoples Democratic Party, its thugs and militant groups that have swarmed the state since the commencement of elections in February to cause large scale violence, capable of preventing the March 9, 2019 from holding”.
He said: “This is another in the series of cowardly attempts at intimidating and cowing our party, the APC, and its supporters in the build up to the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state. Some months ago, gunmen fired shots into the bedroom of the APC governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, at his Ewet Housing Estate residence, with his family members narrowly escaping the attack.”
On his part, the Youth Leader of the APC in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Stephen Ntukekpo, alleged that he was the prime target of the attackers.
He said: “I got a vital information that my life was simply at risk. To be precise, somebody gave me information that an SA to the Governor was actually saying that on or before Wednesday this week that I would be trailed and probably mowed down by a gunman or gunmen as the case may be. This is a political season. I didn’t take that issue lightly. I had to fortify myself with security personnel.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Odiko MacDonald, could not be reached on the phone to comment on the issue. He also did not reply text messages sent to his phone line.