|Police officers in altercation with the protesting women barricaded at Waterlines junction before firing teargas at them|
Hundreds of women from different parts of Rivers state who were protesting at INEC headquarters along Aba/Port Harcourt Expressway in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital against alleged irregularities that characterised the last Saturday presidential and national assembly election in the state were about 9:15 am today teargassed and dispersed by stern looking armed policemen.
The women who were led by Mrs Joeba West, Rivers State Commissioner for Women Affairs; Mrs Maureen Tamuno, former member Rivers House of Assembly and former Chairperson of Ogu/Bolo local government council and also an APC candidate contesting for Okrika/Ogu Bolo federal constituency in federal House of Representatives had passed St. John’s bus stop on old Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway but on reaching Waterlines Junction they were stopped and teargassed by the police.
Journalists who were covering the peaceful protest were not spared as they were also teargassed as people scampered in different direction for safety. The action of the policemen caused instant pandemonium on the ever-busy federal truck ‘A’ road that is major access road to the Eastern parts of the country from the Rivers state capital.
The women who were clad in all-black attire with placards narrating their grievances, were drawn from 23 local government areas of the state.
However, as soon as the women took to the street, several troopers of heavily-armed anti-riot policemen, in several vehicles, hit the Waterlines Junction along Aba Road where they mounted a heavy roadblock. But the women, who were determined to proceed to accomplish their mission, engaged the policemen in an argument. The women appealed to the officers in-charge of the police operations to let them continue with their march but they were not allowed.
The police would not listen to the harmless women and rather than offer them a passage, they fired teargas canisters. Several women ran for safety but eventually were caught in the open hostility unleashed on them. Older women among the flock sustained injuries and had to be attended to by their colleagues. Some who inhaled the teargas collapsed on the ground.
Yesterday, thousands of APC supporters led by the Dr.Dakuku Peterside, the governorship candidate of APC, Senator Magnus Abe contesting for Rivers East senatorial seat protested to the INEC office calling for the cancellation of the Saturday elections the state capital.