House flays Police handling of Rivers crisis

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By Funmi  Komolafe, Jimitota Onoyume, Emman Ovuakporie & Levinus Nwabughiogu

PORT HARCOURT — FOLLOWING the crisis in Rivers State, which led to the alleged shooting of Senator Magnus Abe on January 12, the House of Representatives, yesterday, considered a motion, calling for the sack the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, and Rivers Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mbu.

The House urged its committees to examine their alleged poor handling of the crisis.

Meantime, Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, was shut down, yesterday, as no fewer than 1000 youths took over the ever busy Aba Road, chanting anti-Governor Rotimi Amaechi slogans. The protesting youths, who said they were drawn from Ikwerre, Emohua, Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas of the state, threatened to shut down activities at the international airport and oil flow stations/ facilities in their councils, if the Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr Joseph Mbu, was transferred on account of calls by some indigenes of the state.

Far reaching consequences

The All Progressives Congress, APC, equally warned of the impending anarchy in Rivers State  that may have far-reaching consequences beyond the state, unless President Goodluck Jonathan urgently calls his supporters to order.

Meanwhile, the state Police Command, has confirmed the arrest of the chairman of Khana Local Government Area of the state, Chairman, Mr Greg Nwidam, and his counterpart in Gokana Local Government Area, Demua Demua. The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Muhammad, told Vanguard that they were picked Monday night, adding that they would be released after questioning.

On its part, the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, has called on the IG to ensure the arrest and prosecution of political thugs who aborted January 19, Save Rivers State Movement rally in Bori, headquarters of Khana Local Government Area of the state, where children were allegedly killed and media professionals attacked. Vice President of NLC, Mr. Issa Aremu, urged the IG to call the Rivers State commissioner of police to order by ensuring that the commissioner abides by the Code of Conduct of the Nigeria Police Force. He warned that the police should not take the people for granted.

*Protesters in support of CP Mbu demonstrating on the Aba road in Port Harcourt, yesterday

*Protesters in support of CP Mbu demonstrating on the Aba road in Port Harcourt, yesterday

The motion for the sack of the IG and Rivers CP, was moved by Rep Sani Madaki, APC, Kano under matters of national importance. In the motion entitled, ‘The Urgent need to save our nascent democracy,’ Madaki had moved that the House should call on  President Goodluck Jonathan to remove the Inspector General of Police from office within two weeks, failing which the National Assembly will take appropriate measures necessary in the circumstances.

He also moved that the House should urge the Police Service Commission to dismiss Mr. Mbu from the service of the Police and that the Federal Ministry of Justice should prosecute Mbu. He urged the House to “mandate the Committees on Interior, National Security and Police Affairs to liase with the relevant government bodies to ensure the implementation of the House Resolution on the matter and report back to the House within four weeks.”

However, Speaker of the House, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal said the prayers of the motion have implications. He referred the motion to Committees on Rules and Business, Judiciary and Justice for them to study it and advise the House on what to do.

Protection for the protesters

Meanwhile, protesters who thronged major areas in Port Harcourt, under the aegis of Ikwerre Peoples Assembly, caused a major traffic on the Aba Road. Some of the placards read  “Thank you I-G for leaving Mbu for us,” “We have a brother in Jonathan,” “A South South Man Cannot Betray His Brother,” “Tinubu Enough is Enough,” “We Will Not Support Impunity,” “Leave CP Mbu Alone,” among others.

The Police provided protection for the protesters. When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Muhammad, said the protesters sought the permit of the state Commissioner of Police, before embarking on the exercise.

Chima Boms, who spoke to newsmen on behalf of the protesters, said that Police Commissioner Joseph Mbu was performing creditably well in the state, adding that he should not be transferred.

He said, “CP Mbu in our estimation has performed creditably well and deserves commendation. We therefore, request that he continues to serve in Rivers State for the good of the people. Consequently, the Ikwerre Peoples’ Assembly will resist any attempt to redeploy CP Mbu as commissioner of police Rivers State as such move will take us back to the dark era. The resumption of Mbu as commissioner of Police Rivers State has effectively put to an end the reign of impunity, lawlessness, harassment and the abuse of the fundamental rights of the citizens by Governor Amaechi.

“Mbu since resumption of office, has demonstrated an uncanny zeal, dexterity and enthusiasm in the art of policing the state, hence the peaceful and serene atmosphere pervasive today in the state which ironically and indeed inexplicably does not go down well with the governor of the state. Rivers people and indeed Nigerians will recall that prior to the resumption of Mbu as commissioner of police in Rivers State, there was indiscriminate arrest and illegal detention, harassment and abuse of the fundamental rights of the citizens by Governor Amaechi.”

The state Police Command, also confirmed the arrest of the chairman of Khana council of the state,  Mr. Greg Nwidam and his counterpart in Gokana council, Demua Demua. The state Police Public Relations Officer, told Vanguard that they were picked Monday night, adding that they would be released after questioning. He said they were arrested in connection with the shooting in Bori, headquarters of Khana council on Sunday, a situation that aborted the rally of Save Rivers Movement, a pro-Governor Rotimi Amaechi group in the area same day.

Chairman of Save Rivers Movement, SRM, Mr. Charles Ahonlu, who spoke to newsmen called for the unconditional release of the council chairmen, adding that the political crisis in the state was man induced.

Partisanship in operations

He said that the Police were contradicting themselves on political situations in the state, stressing, “Let the Police remove partisanship in their operations. This is not acceptable to SRM. Chairmen of the councils have nothing to do with the crisis.”

Meantime, Governor Amaechi has said he would attend a rally in Bori on Saturday. The governor spoke  while inspecting vehicles smashed by hoodlums in the aborted rally in Bori on Sunday.

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the state, yesterday, pleaded with the governor not to push the Ogoni to war. In a statement by the media aide to the state PDP chairman, Mr. Jerry Needam, the party said the governor should pursue the path of peace in Ogoni area. He said, “Rather than threatening to go ahead to hold a rally in Bori, and provoke the people to another round of crisis, he should talk and for once act like a governor by seeking ways to bring about peace in the area and the State, before he proceeds on rally to Bori or any other part of the state.”

NLC, which condemned the crisis in the state, reminded the state police commissioner and the IG that “The code also demands that “all citizens will be treated equally with courtesy, consideration and dignity. Officers will never allow personal feelings, animosities or friendships to influence official conduct. There is no doubt that Mr. Mbu’s activities in Rivers State depart from the spirit and content of the adopted Code of Conduct. In a democracy, contestation and cooperation among political parties and actors are normal. The job of the police is to protect civil liberties and not be an obstacle to self expression of some stakeholders.”

It called on the IG to “urgently remind his state commissioners as well as the Divisional Police Officers throughout the country to obey the police Code of Conduct and discharge their responsibility to all stakeholders in the Nigerian project with fairness and justice.”

APC on its part, said in a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that “having lost confidence in the ability of the police to protect them and keenly aware of the President’s deliberate refusal to allow peace to reign in their state, the patience of the people of Rivers is wearing thin, and there is an increasing possibility that they may resort to self help, which can only result in a blood bath.”

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