Supporters of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday engaged themselves in a violent clash at Umuopara Nguru, in the Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State during the burial ceremony of the father of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), John Kennedy Opara, Nze PJC Opara.
President Goodluck Jonathan who was earlier scheduled to attend the ceremony cancelled the trip.
While the President’s handlers say the cancellation became necessary so that he could preside over an emergency meeting on the Ebola virus in Nigeria, those at the burial said it was apparently in anticipation of the clash
Jonathan suddenly shelved the trip to the disappointment of many PDP chieftains and supporters, including the State Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, of the APC; who waited patiently for hours at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport Owerri to receive the august visitor.
Supporters of the two parties soon turned St Mary’s Catholic Church, Nguru, venue for the Requiem Mass in honour of the deceased, into a theatre of war as they began to shout on top of their voices and rained abuses against one another.
On sighting Governor Rochas Okorocha’s convoy approaching the church, supporters of the PDP immediately started singing scornful APC songs, branding members of the party as “Boko Haram” and “Ebola virus” among other derogatory names, prompting the APC members to retaliate in kind.
The situation soon degenerated to a free-for-all.
The drama lasted for several minutes until security operatives intervened by firing teargas into the air, which made it possible to disperse the crowd and bring the situation under control.
In his condolence message at the funeral, President Jonathan, who was represented by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, described death as inevitable for all souls.
While describing the deceased as an ideal father, good husband and good leader, the President urged religious leaders in the country to pray for the unity of the country.
He used the forum to appeal to leaders of the nation to be united in order to confront the scourge of terrorism in the country
In his speech, Governor Okorocha, who also condoled with the bereaved family, declared that there was no Ebola virus or Boko Haram in Imo state.
Opara, 81, died at the State House Clinic, Abuja on Friday, July 18, after a brief illness.