The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Tonye Cole has reacted the mass movement of Abomena residents from the community, following the murder of three soldiers over the weekend in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area.
Videos of the people of the community leaving in fear of reprisal attack from the military in trending on the internet with hashtag #WikeMustGo.
PoliticsNGR reports that unknown gunmen opened fire on the military personnel at Samson Jack military checkpoint in the community around 8 pm, leaving three dead and many injured.
Cole, in a statement released on Monday, described the incident as regrettable.
He, therefore, urged the resident to return to their homes and not to be afraid as the presence of the military in the community is to restore and maintain peace.
“I believe that the soldiers are not after any innocent citizens of Abonnema. I urge people to return to their homes and not be afraid. I believe that the presence of the military in Abonnema is to restore peace and security to the town and fish out the bad eggs that make living in Abonnema difficult/dangerous for others.
“These people have their own political agendas and have taken it upon themselves to make Abonnema inhabitable, especially during elections. I am a son of Abonnema and you are all my family. Let us come together and restore Abonnema to its former glory,” he said.
He also pointed that despite the loss of four of their men in the past one week, 3 of whom were gunned down at their sentry post in cold blood, the soldiers in Abonnema have assured the people that they are committed to protecting the lives and property of the innocent against violence, and evil cultists.
While noting that they are not in the community on reprisal attacks or a vengeance mission, Cole said: “It truly amazes me and breaks my heart when I see Abonnema today compared to the Abonnema I knew growing up as a child. We never knew fear of any kind, and Abonnema welcomed everybody to come and stay as long as they liked. It was a place of peace and happiness.
“All the youths had meaningful jobs and were the keys and guide to the town. Nobody involved themselves in cult activities, not to mention killing/murdering on Abonnema soil. It was unthinkable! It truly saddens me that today almost all our youths are deeply involved in cult activities and see it as their ONLY means of livelihood. This must change.
“Please let us stop and think “where do we go to from here” and what type of future and life are we paving for our children.
He, therefore, promised to do his best to make sure his people feel safe at home,
“That is what my pledge is and that is what we will strive to do till it is achieved. To all those who fled the town yesterday, I urge you to please return home and protect the integrity of our people. I was there yesterday and the soul of the town was wounded.
“Let us debunk the strange phenomenon we have witnessed in the past two election weekends that have been characterized by shootings and killings and use the gubernatorial election on Saturday the 9th of March as an opportunity for us to show the world who we truly are. A friendly, hospitable and non-violent people, welcoming of family and stranger alike.”