Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital was on Monday hit by violence as supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) clashed over the outcome of the March 18 guber polls in the state.
The supporters of the ruling PDP in their hundreds besieged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office requesting that they should be allowed to a joint inspection of election materials by political parties ahead of the election petition tribunal sitting.
The placard-carrying protesters took off from GRA, while the demonstration paralysed vehicular activities from the Waterlines axis.
The incident resulted in a clash between the PDP supporters and APC supporters in the state. Scores were injured while one person was hit by a stray bullet.
It was gathered that Tonye-Cole was caught in the melee and only escaped from the scene with little injury.
Reports say that while the PDP protest was ongoing, Cole, in company with the state APC Chairman, Emeka Beke, and other party leaders, showed up at the GRA axis of Aba Road, heading for INEC office.
On hearing that Cole was at the GRA Junction, the protesting youths raced in his direction and pelted stones and water sachets at him.
Security operatives attached to Cole immediately shielded him and whisked him into the vehicle, but the protesters continued pelting stones and sachet water at him and his group.
Soldiers of the 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt, and operatives of the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were drafted to the scene to disperse the protesters.The security forces stationed patrol vehicles in front of INEC office to prevent any damage to the facility.
Speaking to newsmen at a different location shortly afterwards, Cole said, “There was an assault on myself, my party chairman, and the woman leader, who were going peacefully to go and collect documents from INEC.
“We were not allowed to get anywhere near the INEC office. This was a deliberate act to prevent us from going to get fundamental materials critical to our petition. And they have told us that they are going to be there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, by which time we will have no documents from INEC to present to the tribunal.
“All we are interested in is going to the tribunal. You say you have won; allow us to go to the tribunal to prove that you did not win.”
When contacted, the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Sydney Gbara, described the claims by Cole as false.