Cole Apologises To Bille Kingdom Over Arms Claims
All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, has apologized to the people of Bille Kingdom over his allegations of oil bunkering and gunrunning.
Spokesman of Cole’s Campaign Organisation, Ogbonna Nwuke, said the ‘inner intent’ of the APC governorship candidate was misconstrued.
Nwuke stated: “It has been brought to the knowledge of the Tonye Cole Campaign Organisation that certain comments made by our candidate, Pastor Tonye Cole, during a live radio programme in Port Harcourt, has not been well received by the good people of Bille Kingdom.
“As responsible citizens of this great state, who are committed to the welfare and wellbeing of our people, it has become pertinent to address the concerns of our brothers and sisters in Bille, especially where matters that concern them may be interpreted to mean portraying them in the bad light.
“We want to state for the avoidance of doubt, that what is trending at the moment does not in any way reflect the inner intent of Pastor Tonye Cole. What is rather trending is the direct opposite of Cole’s actual intent.
“Our standard bearer has respect for the people of Rivers State and the Bille community in particular. He equally feels the pain of the people over a system that has supervised their exclusion from the receipt of basic amenities.
This is why he took it upon himself to embark on a ward to ward tour in order to have a working understanding of the situation on the ground.
“On behalf of the entire campaign organization, we apologize, if the comments complained of have brought embarrassment to people of Bille Kingdom”, the campaign organization apologized.
The people of Bille in Degema Local Government area had told the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Arch. Tonye Cole to retract what they termed were malicious allegations against the kingdom within 48 hours.
In a statement, Alabo (Dr) Ibitamino Minapakama on behalf of Bille Kingdom Chiefs Council, condemned the statement made by the APC candidate during a radio programme in Port Harcourt Saturday where he alleged that “Bille was the heart of bunkering and that young people in the area had more guns and arms than any other thing else”.
According to Minapakama, the Bille people are very disappointed that Pastor Cole resorted to display absolute bias and cheap blackmail against the ancient Bille Kingdom just to give the “dog a bad name in order to hang it”.
Recalling some of the consequences of similar allegations of arms proliferation against the kingdom in the past which led to attacks and invasion of the kingdom on several occasions by soldiers and neighbouring communities, the statement a repeat of such claims by person of his calibre without facts exposes the kingdom to danger.
According to the him, when Pastor Cole visited the kingdom for the governorship sensitization campaigns, there was no gun shots or display of arms by any person or group, adding that it was impossible to assert that people of the area displayed these guns and arms in the presence of heavily armed soldiers of the 29th Battalions, Nigerian Army Tactical headquarters and the Nigerian police station all situated in Bille town.
The Chiefs and stakeholders said it was unacceptable for Pastor Cole to maliciously portray the peaceful Bille kingdom in such negative light, adding that it was a ploy by the APC candidate to instigate calamity on the kingdom.
They threatened to take appropriate legal action on the matter if within 48 hrs, the APC candidate, Pastor, Arch. Tonye Cole fails to publicly withdraw the said malicious statements and also render unreserved apologies in the print and electronic media, to the Amayanagbo, Chiefs and people of Bille kingdom.