A team of Northern governors on a solidarity visit to Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, have asked the Inspector General of Police to immediately redeploy the Commissioner of Police in the state, Joseph Mbu, over what they described as his unprofessionalism and political partisanship in the multiple crises rocking the state.
In a statement distributed to journalists shortly before they drove out of the Government House in the company of their host, the governors — Babangida Aliyu (Niger) Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) — said having interacted with stakeholders in the state, it was clear that Commissioner Mbu was being used to persecute the Rivers State Governor.
“We wish to call on the Inspector General of Police to hearken to the voices of reason and immediately redeploy and discipline Commissioner Joseph Mbu,” the statement said. “His action smacks of unprofessionalism and political partisanship which is unbecoming of his office.”
Talking really tough, the governors threatened that they would reconsider their earlier commitment to contribute part of their federal allocations towards the funding of the police if the Rivers police boss was not removed and sanctioned.
“With the way the police is being used and abused, and with officers like Mbu in the bus, we do not see the need for state governments to fund an antagonistic police and may be forced to reconsider our position on the financial contribution of states towards the funding of the Nigerian police,” the governors said.
They also resuscitated the debate over the desirability of state police for the country, saying it had become a necessity since the federal government was now in the habit of using the federal police to persecute political enemies.
“Arising from the action of the police, and Joseph Mbu in Rivers State, the call for state police as a constitutional provision has become a necessity,” the statement added. “We note that the events in Rivers state have again brought to the fore the issue of true federalism and the need for institutions derived from the Constitutions to be allowed to function without undue interference. As federating units, we must be allowed the space to guarantee our people’s sustainable development as provided by the Constitution.”
The governors commended Mr. Amaechi for his “maturity and calm even in the face of apparent persecution”.
They also praised the House of Representatives for its proactive leadership in resolving the Rivers crisis and the Senate for its thoroughness in addressing the matter.
They called on political actors in Rivers State to “defuse tension and stop all actions capable of overheating the polity and derailing our nascent democracy”.
“We must all work together to build one united and indivisible nation nation and strengthen our democracy,” they said.
The four governors were, on arrival at the Port Harcourt International Airport earlier today, harassed by protesters, believed to have acted at the behest of people opposed to Governor Amaechi.
The protesters, under the aegis of Grassroots Development Initiative, had besieged the airport shortly before the arrival of the governors.
Chanting anti-Amaechi slogans, the protesters berated the governors for intervening in Rivers State’s internal crisis.
As the cars conveying the visiting governors drove out of the airport and headed towards the Rivers State Government House, the protesters became violent pelting the motorcade with stones, water bottles, sticks and other items.
However, the governors arrived the Government House safe, without any major incident, and immediately went into a closed-door meeting with Mr. Amaechi.
A leader of the protesting group, Samuel Nwanosike, later said Rivers people were uncomfortable with the visit of the governors.
He said the people of the state were capable of solving their own problem and that the northern governors should leave them alone.
The visiting governors have remained firm supporters of the embattled Rivers governor. They visited in the wake of the recent state-sponsored unrest, to which many commentators have pointed accusing fingers at federal authorities.
Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate and professor of literature, at a press conference in Lagos last week, cautioned Patience Jonathan, wife of President Jonathan, against invasively inserting herself in the politics of the state, and working secretly as matron to forces trying to unseat Mr. Amaechi and make the state ungovernable.
Mrs. Jonathan has denied the claims, drawing wide amusement when she described the Nobel Laureate as an “embarrassment.”
The Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, also reportedly arrived Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Mr. Wike, an indigene of Rivers State, has been accused of being an arrowhead of the anti-Amaechi group.
The Rivers State Governor has been having a running battle with the presidency over his stance on major public issues. He has since been suspended from the PDP.
The crisis in the state worsened last week when five state lawmakers, loyal to the presidency, attempted to impeach the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly. The speaker and 26 other lawmakers are loyal to Mr. Amaechi, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum. The violent crisis in the assembly was widely publicised on television and social media.
Mr. Amaechi had repeatedly called for the redeployment of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police who is accused of playing partisan role in the crisis.
The House of Representatives has passed a resolution also demanding the immediate removal of the controversial police commissioner.