By Our Reporter
Veteran journalists in Imo State have roundly condemned the display of thuggery and violence that led to the abrupt end of the planned political debate at the Assumpta Cathedral premises, Owerri at the weekend.
In a statement issued by the Imo League of Veteran Journalists and signed by the state secretary, Mazi Nnamdi Nwigwe, the league described the action as shameful on the part of youths and adults in the political parties involved, adding that it is strange to decent Imo people and should not be tolerated.
In the opinion of the veteran journalists, political office seekers should embrace vibrant intellectual debates rather than causing mayhem where a platform has been offered for exchange of ideas.
All those vying for the office of the governor of Imo State should openly condemn the disgraceful act and make it clear to their supporters that every act of thuggery and violence is unacceptable, the release stated.
The veterans also appealed to the security operatives to come down heavily on any individual or group of rascals who deliberately cause uproar by threatening violence on law-abiding citizens. Any law-breakers must be apprehended and appropriately dealt with to serve as a lesson to others.
Also reacting to the incident, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for governorship in the State, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of planning to cause mayhem during the elections.
He said Gov. Rochas Okorocha may have masterminding the violence, knowing that he missed the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) sponsored debate last month.
He called for anti-violence agreement in the state to check recklessness and offered to sign such an agreement when called upon.
Reacting also, a spokesman of APC said that the supporters of Gov Okorocha had reached the scene only to discover the opposition party insulting the governor.
He called for caution on the part of opposition in the state.
Archbishop Anthony J.V. Obinna, of the Owerri Catholic Archdiocese had organized the political debate for parties to air their manifestos.
According to reports, trouble broke out when supporters of Governor Rochas Okorocha arrived the scene and met some of the governor’s opponents flashing red cards and flags, a symbol referees use to send out players in the field.
This infuriated the governor’s supporters who pounced on the red cards bearers, resulting to a free-for-all fight in which some priests were reportedly wounded and electronic equipment at the venue destroyed.