Political Assassination of Marshall

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The Political Assassination of Harry Marshall -A Compilation

 

By

 

Mobolaji E. Aluko, Ph.D.

Alukome@aol.com



March 6, 2003

http://www.thisdayonline.com/news/Mar%206/pg1.jpg
Chief Marshall Harry at the ANPP secretariat in Abuja... Tuesday
Photo: Sunday Aghaeze

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Chronology of high profile murders  of politicians since 1999

1999

Sep 9 - Sunday Ugwu, elder brother of Nwabueze Ugwu, a legislator representing Nkanu East LGA in Enugu killed in a case of mistaken identity


2001

Feb 4 - Governor James Ibori of Delta State  escaped death in an exchange of gun fire between two factions of the PDP

March 5 - Momoh Lawal, a relation of Umar Akaaba, former Chairman, Okene LGA in Kogi State killed

August 24 - Four killed in Abakaliki when Senate President Chief Anyim Pius Anyim's supporters clashed with Ebonyi Governor Sam Egwu's supporters

Dec 21 - Odunayo Olagbaju, member of the state assembly in southwestern Osun, is killed by unknown gunmen in his hometown of Ife.

Dec 23 - Justice Minister Bola Ige is shot dead in his bedroom in the southwestern city of Ibadan in Nigeria's most high profile political killing for 20 years.


2002

March 7 - Three students reportedly killed at Effurun, Delta State, after a PDP rally turned violent

Aug 13 - Janet Oladapo, a PDP leader in Odigbo LG clubbed to death by gunmen

Aug 15 - Ahmed Pategi, chairman of President Olusegun Obasanjo's ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and his police orderly are murdered by unknown assailants on a highway near the state capital Ilorin.

Aug 29 - Gunmen kill Victor Nwankwo, younger brother of opposition PMP  leader   Arthur Nwankwo (and founder Eastern Mandate Union (EMU)) in the southeast city of Enugu.

Sept 1 - A vocal critic of the governor of southeastern Anambra state governor and local branch chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Barnabas Igwe and his wife, Abigail, are gruesomely murdered in the commercial hub of Onitsha. The killers use a truck to run repeatedly over their dead bodies.

Sept 26 - John Nunu, treasurer of Akassa local government area of southeast Bayelsa state, is killed by unknown gunmen.

Oct 20 - Prof. Chimere Ikoku, former Vice Chancellor, UNN, killed in his residence

Nov 25 - PDP governorship hopeful Dele Arojo is assassinated in Lagos by unknown gunmen.

December ? - Alhaji Isyaku Muhammad, United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP), National Vice Chairman, North West was assassinated


2003

Jan 18 - Three killed in an ANPP, PDP clash around Buhari - Bularafa - Dokini area in Yobe State

Feb 10 - Ogbonnaya Uche, a senatorial candidate of the main opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) dies two days after he is attacked in his home in southeastern Owerri.

Feb 18 - At least seven people are killed in clashes between PDP and ANPP supporters in Jato-Aka village in central Benue state. The bloodletting was sparked by the killing of a security guard at the residence of ANPP's governorship candidate for Benue, Paul Unongo.

Feb 22 - Theodore Agwatu, principal secretary to the Imo state governor, is murdered in his Owerri residence by unknown attackers.

Feb 23 - Speaker, Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Inuwa Kubo escaped assassination attempt

March 3 - Mrs. Emily Omope (aka Thatcher) an AD member in Ekiti State died  at the UCH Ibadan after an acid attack in December last year by unknown persons

March 5 - ANPP regional chieftain Marshall Harry is shot dead in his home in the capital Abuja.

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This Day
Thursday, March 6, 2003

Harry Petitions Police, Says Odili Out to Disrupt ANPP Rally

Three days before his death the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) national vice chairman, Dr. Marshall Harry alleged in a petition to the Rivers State Commissioner of Police that the state governor, Dr. Peter Odili, wanted to disrupt the flag off of the ANPP presidential campaign in Port Harcourt Saturday.

In the letter which he copied the president and security chiefs, Harry listed a number of measures the Rivers State governor had taken to intimidate ANPP members.

Excerpts from the letter read:

It is with extreme dismay that we wish to urgently bring to your attention the dangerous political trend that is rearing its ugly head in Rivers State. This very ugly trend which is planned and being executed by Rivers State Governor should be nipped in the bud before mayhem is let loose. Peter Odili should be held responsible in the event of any riots and disruption of public peace occurring in Rivers State as a result of his irresponsible and unscrupulous conduct.

Elections in a democracy is about winning and losing. In developed world, it is seen as a healthy contest where winners and losers shake hands after elections. But here in Rivers State, and Nigeria, most of the people who call themselves democrats are nothing but intolerant dictators who are full of mischief, who are bent on misusing power at the expense of the people they are supposed to protect.

THE SOURCES OF PROBLEMS:

1. On Tuesday, February 25th 2003, we applied to the Rivers State Stadia authority for permission to use the Liberation Stadium Port Harcourt for the flag-off of the ANPP Presidential Campaign Rally. To our astonishment we were told that for the stadium to be made available for the use requested for, we must pay a total of seven million, five hundred Naira (N7.5 million). Two million five hundred thousand Naira as the fee and five million Naira security deposit. Meanwhile, a fortnight ago, the Ruling PDP used the same arena after paying only N800,000. We consider this sudden rise in cost as outrageous and a plan to frustrate the planned Rally.

Let it be known that the stadium is not a property of Dr. Peter Odili Company Limited but the property built and maintained with River State money. Fortunately, the party chairman in the presence of Prince Tony Momoh and Alhaji Sule Hamman Bello called the Governor to ask him why the outrageous cost, they are witnesses to what transpired.

2. Since we started the preparation for the presidential flag-off campaign, we have noticed a high spate of arrest, intimidation, harassment and maiming of our party officials, candidates and supporters by Odili's thugs with the assistance of the Police.

3. Apart from the continued detention of Chief Ibe Eresia Eke, an ANPP National Officer for trumped up charges of attempted murder for which he has been refused bail since the past four weeks, the following are other Party members that have just been hounded into Police cells for similar trumped up charges.

4. Deacon Elekwa, the House of Representatives candidate for Emohua/lkwerre constituency was arrested and detained three days ago under similar circumstances and without bail.

5. Mr. Monday Nyoneh, the Party Chairman of Tai Local Government Area was arrested and detained without bail for trumped up charges of attempted murder.

6. Mr. I. Benjamin, the Ward 11 Chairman of Delga L.G.A. is also under detention by the Police in Degema Local Government Area.

Information reaching us reveals that there is calculated attempt to truncate and abort the flag-off of the Presidential Campaign Rally of ANPP in Rivers State.

Let us state it clearly now that we shall refuse to be harassed and intimidated and we have more than enough capacity to ensure that Governor Peter Odili's plan to frustrate the kick-off of the campaign is resisted. We do not regard as part of our statutory function to take over the function of the Police. We can only compliment their efforts in the area of protection of lives and property but we do not lack the will and capacity to protect our supporters if the Police is found to be failing in that aspect.

The Police should be seen to be fair and equitable in discharge of their functions and not to dance to the whims and caprice of the State Government. They should not be seen to be openly partisan as is the case in Rivers State. Mr. Godwin Obielum the State Commander of Operation Fire for Fire who been transferred severally but brought back with the influence of Odili's scheming is at the head of the continuous harassment and intimidation of our supporters.

We want to also inform you that we have it on a credible note that the Peter Odili's government of Rivers Slate has been buying Police and Army uniforms as well as guns and ammunitions to equip their standing army of murderers for the purpose of rigging the forth-coming elections.

We strongly urge you to advise the State government against these dangerous developments so as to nip the consequences in the bud because we do not want Mr. President to convert Rivers Stale into another Odi or Zaki-Ibiam which we suspect he may do willingly if only to appease his "son" Dr. Peter Odili on his devilish intentions.

We also urge you even if it is for the upteenth time to do everything possible to prevent this ugly trend from degenerating into a disaster of immense proportion. The misgovernance of Peter Odili is bad enough to have angered Rivers indigenes thus far but arresting and intimidating them are likely to worsen the situation. That is why we are alerting you to take preventive measures.


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''PDP is responsible for Marshall's death''

Statement By Chief Don Etiebet (Chairman, ANPP)
March 5, 2003

"It is well known country-wide that we in ANPP have planned to flag off our presidential campaign in Port Harcourt on the 8th of March, 2003. To this end, the party appointed Dr. Marshal Isokrari Harry, who was our South-South co-ordinator as well as the ANPP presidential co-ordinator in the South-South, as the Chairman of the ANPP Presidential Campaign Flag-off Ceremony in the South-South in the city of Port Harcourt on Saturday.

My dear brothers and sisters I want to say that since that announcement of the starting of our campaign programme, one road block or another has been placed on our way. When we started to get the venue of the function in Port Harcourt, the Liberation Stadium, in which the ruling party, PDP held their function not too long ago, and paid N800,000.00 this facility was made inaccessible to us unless the party (ANPP) paid N3.5 million as the fees and to deposit another N5 million for purported amount of security and damages to the stadium.

When I heard of this outrageous demand from government of Rivers State, I personally called on Dr. Peter Odili, the Executive Governor of Rivers State and complained about this development. He told me he was going to look into it and that he would call me back. Since then, he never called me back and I called 10,000 times, but he is never around. However, in order to secure the venue for this very important event, the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Dr. Harry Marshal himself made immediate payment of N7.5 million to secure the stadium.

The flow of intimidation and certain occurrences to ensure that our flag-off campaign never took place in Port Harcourt, Dr. Harry took it upon himself to make representation in a petition, dated 3rd March 2003, to the Commissioner of Police in Port Harcourt complaining about the action of the government in Rivers State to abort our presidential flag-off campaign ceremony. Copies of that letter written by Dr. Harry dated the 3rd of March, 2003 were given to me yesterday (Tuesday) by Harry himself when he visited us to brief us on the programme.

Yesterday, Dr. Harry was with us in Abuja here to brief the party leaders on the preparations for the flag-off ceremony. We met with Dr. Harry till 9.00 last night and he went home. In fact one of our gubernatorial candidates, George Moghalu went to him and had dinner with him till almost mid-night and discussed a few things. I was therefore, very, very shocked when 6.00 a.m. this morning I received a phone call that Dr. Harry had been shot in his house. Police was called in and he was rushed by the police to the hospital, National Hospital, Abuja, where he was pronounced dead.

Dr. Harry was a man who had given his time, his life and money to ensure the growth of democracy in this country, to build a stable democratic culture for all of us and for our children yet unborn. He was a man that exhibited democratic principle. The killing of Dr. Harry is one assassination too much and too many for us to bear. He chronicled the spate of attacks that had befallen the party loyalists and members throughout the country. In recent times, many of our party members have been harassed and assassinated. A few of such incidents that came to mind immediately were in Rivers State itself, Monday Udo, a stalwart of the ANPP was assassinated in his house in Port Harcourt and an attempt was also made on Ogwu Ibolo, an elected ANPP local government chairman in Rivers State.

Yesterday morning, the Deputy Chairman of the Flag-off Committee, Chief G. O. T. Minimah's office, Port Harcourt was invaded by armed men in broad daylight and when they didn't see him they wrote a note that their presence was the beginning of what will befall him. We thought we have got democracy, where everybody is safe and work for the betterment of this country but our dreams are being dashed by the events of this present administration.

"Never in the history of this country through the civil war have we experienced this kind of violence, threat to lives and properties and intimidation to undermine our democracy."


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Daily Trust
Thursday, March 6, 2003

ASSASSINATION OF MARSHALL HARRY
How he was murdered
-Security Guard, Niece

By Auwalu S. Mu'azu, with agency report

Chief Marshall Harry, National Coordinator, South-South geopolitical zone of the ANPP Presidential Campaign was murdered by unknown gunmen at his 28 Karaye Close, Garki II, Abuja residence yesterday.

The ANPP chieftain was said to have been killed in the presence of his daughter and his niece, Loliya Harry.

The only security guard in the house, Mr. Polini Aniya, said the assailants numbering about five forced their way into the ANPP chieftain's residence at about 3 a.m.
He said: "I was in my room by the gate side when I heard some movements in the compound."

According to him, when he came out to confirm what was happening, the gunmen caught up with him, flashed the lights of their torches on his face and tied him up with a rope.
"They tore my bed sheet and tied me. They asked me to give them money and I told them I don't have money. So they went to the Boys' Quarters."

At the Boys' Quarters, the security guard further revealed, the gunmen took almost an hour struggling to force their way into the main building where Chief Harry Marshall was sleeping in his bedroom.

Mr. Aniya said the assassins woke up everybody in the house from their sleep and seized their mobile phones.

Although Aniya did not state specifically the number of people at the boys quarters, he said the assassins also collected some money from those they found sleeping there.
The gunmen, the security guard further disclosed, forced their way into the main building after they broke into the kitchen in the main building.

Immediately after wards, they (gunmen) began to ransack all the rooms on the ground floor of the house even as Chief Harry's bedroom was upstairs.

While this was going on, Aniya said, one of the assassins climbed into the ceiling roof and walked through it until he broke into the bedroom of Chief Marshall Harry. He said that happened after they failed to break through the doors.

The security guard further informed Daily Trust that when the gunmen broke into the main house and were engaged in verbal brawl with Chief Harry's relations, he (Chief Harry) came out of the balcony of his room and was shouting for help, perhaps expecting his neighbours to come to their rescue.

Dr. Harry came out here (point at the balcony) and was shouting thieves, thieves, assassins, they came to kill me. Isn't there anybody to help us," the security guard added.
However, a few minutes after Marshall Harry got back to his room, one of the five assassins who broke and climbed into the ceiling roof had gotten to the ANPP chieftain's bedroom, "and we hear gun shots twice. That was all," Mr. Aniya further revealed.

Dr. Harry's daughter, who was in his room when he was assassinated, is now in hospital recieving treatment.

Also recounting her experience in the early hours of yesterday Miss. Loliya Harry, a niece to Dr. Harry concurred with the security guard.

"I was in my room downstairs when they came and asked me to take them to Oga, but I refused.

Then one of them slapped me," she said.

According to Loliya, Dr. Marshall who returned home on Tuesday night at about 9.00 p.m. was sleeping in the same room where his daughter also slept. That was upstairs. The assassins got him right in there, she added.

According to another eye witness, as a result of the gunshot, Marshall Harry's intestines were pulled out having been shot on the stomach by the assassins.

The suspected assassins, according both Aniya and Loliya took to their heels when they heard the sound of an oncoming vehicle.

It was a vehicle of one of their neighbours who returned house at about 4 a.m.

The assassins were said to have fled through the residence's backdoor exit.

Both the gateman and Miss. Loliya said though they could not contact the police while the suspected assassins were in the house, the police, however, arrived the house after the killers had left.

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It's shocking, say PDP, AD
By Reuben Yunana

The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said it recieved with rude shock and disbelief, the gruesome murder of Marshall Harry.

A release signed by the national publicity secretary of the party, Barrister Venatius Ikem, described it as an act capable of truncating our nascent democracy.

"Coming at this critical moment in our march to successful civilian transition, a dastardly act capable of blowing sky-high the entire democratic exercise has indeed been committed with the assassination of Dr. Marshall.

"This for sure is no happy moment in our national life. A threat to the life of one of us is indeed a threat to the life of the entire political class," Ikem's statement said.

Describing the murder as bizarre and unfortunate, the party called on the Inspector-General of Police to leave no stone unturned in urgently fishing out and bringing to justice the killers of the top politician.

Also yesterday, Alliance for Democracy (AD) described the murder as despicable, callous and barbaric.

Chairman, AD Northern caucus and deputy national publicity secretary, Dr. Manzo Abubakar in an interview with Daily Trust described the murder as a crime not against the ANPP but a crime against the country in its march towards nationhood and enduring democracy.

"It is despicable, callous, barbaric and an ultimate madness. It is a throwback to the pre-colonial period. He was killed by those who do not wish this country well."

He urged politicians to resist the temptation to see the contest for political power as a do or die affair while calling on government to empower its security agencies to apprehend the culprits.

He described the late Marshall as a frontline politician with a distinguished public career who aggregated and articulated the aspirations of his people.

"Marshall loved his people. He lived for them," Dr. Manzo said.

Also speaking yesterday, PDP national chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh said the assassination of Marshall has cast a doubt on the ability of the police to protect lives and apprehend criminals.

Calling for more funds for the police, Ogbeh described the murder as a dangerous signal in the country's effort to achieve a peaceful civilian to civilian transition in May this year.

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ALUKO COMMENTARY
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This is one assassination too many.  The killers must be found and, together with their sponsors, dealt with.

May Chief Harry Marshall's soul rest in peace [Amen].


Bolaji Aluko

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