Soyinka, Nwabueze, others condemn Rivers Assembly crisis

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By DAPO AKINREFON

THREE days after the mayhem at the Rivers State House of Assembly, the polity was still awash with condemnation of the action of the lawmakers and feuding stakeholders.

Among those who spoke on the crisis, yesterday, were Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, legal icons, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, Itse Sagay, SAN, Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Femi Falana, SAN.

Nobel Laurete, Professor Wole Soyinka has condemned the ongoing political crisis in Rivers State, saying that democratic grounds were being eroded in the state.
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Soyinka also took a swipe at the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan for her alleged over bearing tendencies and urged President Goodluck Jonathan to call her to order.

While he faulted the presidency for trying to absolve the president from the crisis, he said “the perception in the world is that he bears a vicarious liability in the crisis.”

RIVERS—The police fire tear gas as rival lawmakers and their supporters clashed in Port-Harcourt yesterday. Photos: Chijioke Nwankpa.

RIVERS—The police fire tear gas as rival lawmakers and their supporters clashed in Port-Harcourt yesterday. Photos: Chijioke Nwankpa.

Besides, he said the indifference exhibited by the President creates an enabling environment for his followers to act on his behalf.

He said: “What I want to do here is to remind you of a certain historic figure. I am sure most of us here must be familiar with Thomas Becket, who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 11th Century, who was murdered at the altar by four Knights of King Henry II.”

Commenting on the crisis, he said: “Now, I have read on the pages of newspapers and watched on television that the President’s spokesmen have been trying to distance him (President) from what is happening in Rivers State. They are doing their job and I wish them well but they have to understand that the President has to understand that the perception out there in the world is that he bears a lot of responsibility for what is happening in Rivers state.”

Drawing a parallel, he said “My reference to Thomas Becket was this: the absolute Monarchism that obtained at that time was that King Henry II saw that Thomas Becket was becoming too influential and what he said was that: ‘will no one rid me of this pestilence?’

“What happened after that was that four Knights went and attacked the Archbishop at the Cathedral. Historically now, we have five operators carrying out the imaginary will of the absolute monarch, again another parallelism.”

Continuing, he said “Again, I have been asking myself are we not tilting towards absolute monarch? There are many ways of saying: will no one rid me of this pestilence in Rivers State? You don’t have to utter a word directly but from your conduct which can convey very strong signals or better still say I will come after you.”

Prof Wole Soyinka brief the World press on the state of the Nation and also the Crisis in the River state House  of Assembly in Lagos yesterday    Px right show Prof Wole Soyinka briefing the press while Mr Femi Falana looks on at the occasion    Px  Biodun  Ogunleye

Prof Wole Soyinka addressing  the press on the state of the Nation and  the Crisis rocking the River state House of Assembly in Lagos Thursday while Mr Femi Falana looks on. Pix Biodun Ogunleye

Stating that he was not casting aspersion on any individual, he said, “I am saying that one can establish certain conducts in the mind of one’s followers, all of which circle around impunity. There are certain ways you can convince your followers, your officials, your cohorts that they can act with impunity. There are many ways, for instance, you can expose a prey and say that prey is available.”

First Lady’s excesses
Decrying alleged excesses of the first lady, Soyinka said it was unfortunate that a mere domestic appendage of power could go to a state and take over the state for 11 days. “A queen goes to the archbishop’s domain, stays 11 days and the baron is not even allowed to move; creating an enabling environment for that baron to be dealt with. He is stopped by a Sheriff and that baron is responsible for security and governance.”

He continued: “I am calling on the President Jonathan please curb the excesses of his wife. Too much is too much. Is she the first First Lady we have had? She is now being used to abuse the authority of an elected governor.

“The governor’s lodge was tear-gassed. Anybody who said teargas was not thrown into Amaechi’s lodge is either ignorant or lying. Some of Amaechi’s security has been removed. The democratic grounds are being eroded. With a teargas thrown, the next one may be a smoke gun”.

He chided Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mbu over his role in the political imbroglio and described him as a political policeman.

Falana laments crisis
Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana said it was regrettable that exactly 10 years after a group of thugs attempted to abduct a sitting governor in Anambra State, another set of thugs attempted to undermine democratic institutions in Rivers State.

Falana said the silence of President Jonathan on the unfortunate development in Rivers State was tantamount to an endorsement of the political crisis.

He said: “We have been through this route before. We must tell them that we are not a conquered people. The case of Rivers is more absurd, more odious, where five members of the assembly aided by the state invaded the Assembly chambers and chased away their colleagues”.

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