ABUJA — Barely 24 hours after Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and four of his colleagues from the North, who paid him solidarity visit were pelted with stones by political opponents in Port Harcourt, Governor Amaechi yesterday, raised alarm that his life was in danger. He alleged that strange policemen and intelligence officers were deployed in his lodges in Port Harcourt and Abuja without his consent.
The governor raised the alarm on a day the Majority Leader of the House, Mr Chidi Lloyd was declared wanted by the State Police Command even as Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka warned that this “notorious proceeding will not be permitted to fester unchallenged.”
The Inspector General of Police, on the other hand, has also summoned to the Force Headquarters, Governor Amaechi’s Chief Security Officer, Mr Tony Iwelu as well as the House Leader.
Threat to Amaechi’s life
On the threat to Governor Amaechi’s life, Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Mr. George Feyii, in a statement made available to Vanguard in Abuja, recalled the surreptitious deployment of strange policemen and intelligence officers to the governor’s lodges in Abuja and Port Harcourt without the involvement of the governor as was the practice nationwide.
Feyii said: “The Rivers State Government notes with distress what is now an apparent attack on the person of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
“On Tuesday, two policemen, one of them, Inspector Bawa, reported to the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge at Justice Mohammed Bello Street, Asokoro, FCT Abuja.
“They claimed to have been posted by Nigeria Police Force Headquarters to monitor the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge.
“Earlier, four intelligence officers had been posted to Government House, Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Police Command. These postings were done without any notification or reference to Governor Amaechi.
“We are aware that on issues of personal safety, an official reserves the right to pick the security personnel to whom he may entrust his safety. This is more so in the case of a state governor.
“The policemen insisted on Wednesday morning (yesterday) that they had directives to remain at the gate of the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge. Not only is the Rivers State Government uncertain of the true identity of these gentlemen, we are worried as to the true intent behind these latest postings.
“In recent times, events in Rivers State and especially around Governor Amaechi have been suggestive of deliberate nonchalance at best, and complicity at worst in the security breaches that have occurred. This trend has continued despite a passionate appeal to the highest levels of authority.
“We are worried that we can no longer guarantee the safety of Governor Chibuike Amaechi and wish to reiterate our call on all relevant authorities to ensure the safety of Governor Amaechi and the peace and security of everyone in Rivers State”, the SSG pleaded.
IGP on CP Mbu
The Inspector General of Police had said last week that he was yet to get a formal request by Amaechi to redeploy the state police commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu from the state.
Even before then, those opposed to Amaechi, had insisted that Mbu was the best CP and should not be moved out of the state.
But events almost got out of hands when hired youths attacked the convoy of the governor and broke some cars as he made to welcome four PDP governors to Port Harcourt, the state capital.
The quartet of Aliyu Babangida of Niger; Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano; Sule Lamido of Jigawa and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa states, were on a solidarity visit to Amaechi, who is also the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF.
Chidi Lloyd declared wanted
Declaring the Majority Leader of the State House of Assembly wanted, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Rivers State Police Command (PPRO), Mrs. Angela Agabe, in a statement issued in Port Harcourt, said that Lloyd, the lawmaker representing Emohua Constituency in the assembly, was wanted over alleged conspiracy, attempted murder, wounding, and willful damage.
She said that the lawmaker was last seen in the assembly on July 9, and that he failed to respond to police invitation, which she explained, elapsed on July 15.
According to her: “The Rivers State Police Command has declared wanted, one honourable Chidi Lloyd, a native of Emohua, in Emohua Local Government Area, Rivers State. About 37 years of age, he is the Majority Leader of the Rivers House of Assembly. He was involved in a case of conspiracy, attempted murder, wounding, and willful damage on July 9, 2013.
“The crime is being investigated by a special team from the Inspector-General of Police in collaboration with the state Criminal Investigation Division, Rivers command.
“He was last seen at the Rivers State House of Assembly on July 9, 2013. All efforts to trace his whereabouts have so far proved abortive.“
Agabe urged the people of the state to give the police useful information that could lead to the arrest of Lloyd and assist the command to fight crime in the state. She said the command was determined to check crime and protect lives and property of the people in the state.
IGP summons Amaechi’s CSO, others
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar also yesterday summoned the leader of the Rivers Assembly, Hon Chidi Lloyd, and the Chief Security officer to Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Tony Iwelu to report to Force headquarters for interrogation.
The ADC to the governor, Acting ASP Debeware Semeikumo and the Escort Commander had earlier appeared at Force Headquarters and before the DIG Philemon Leha-led investigative panel. Both Lloyd and Iwelu were to report in respect of the alleged roles they played in the crisis as could be seen from the video clips in circulation.
Also, Police headquarters yesterday issued a directive barring citizens from constituting themselves into or being part of an unlawful assembly in any part of the country.
It expressed dismay at the attitude of some Nigerians who have chosen the nation’s airports as points of congregating their followers saying, “these assemblies do not only constitute nuisance to the airport environment but are also a threat to the security of both genuine travellers and the airport authority.
Police bar unlawful assembly
In separate statements signed by Force Spokesman, CSP Frank Mba, the Police said: “It would be recalled that in the video clips, a man carrying a mace and another in Police uniform as well as other security details were seen conducting themselves in a questionable and uncomplimentary manner.
“The invitation therefore seeks to obtain further details that will assist proper investigation into the matter. The IGP reminded Police personnel on various legitimate assignments particularly those attached to VIPs to always remain mindful of their conduct and ensure that they uphold the professional ethics, traditions and best practices of the Force at all times.
On the issues of violent and unlawful assemblies, and cautioning against unguarded and inflammatory utterances, the Police said: “In the light of emerging security challenges in parts of the country, especially the unfolding saga in Rivers State, citizens are hereby warned against constituting themselves into or being part of an unlawful assembly in any part of the country.
“Citizens are reminded that airports all over the world are regarded as “restricted areas” and as such are traditionally shielded from unnecessary intrusion. The Force will not hesitate from the date of this statement, to bring the full weight of extant laws on persons found forming or being part of an unlawful assembly, especially riotous assemblies”.
Continuing the statement said: “The Force is very much aware and not unmindful of the fundamental rights of citizens particularly their rights to “freedom of expression” “peaceful assembly and association; “freedom of movement” among others as provided for in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended); and is duty bound to respect and protect them.
“However, citizens are reminded that these rights and freedom must be enjoyed within the bounds of the law. Therefore, all assemblies must be peaceful, lawful and must not be intentionally contrived to provoke or abridge the rights of other citizens”.
“The Nigeria Police Force has a constitutional responsibility of ensuring not just the security of citizens, but to promote the unity and indivisibility of our dear country. It will therefore do all within its ability to ensure that the country remains secure, peaceful and indivisible”.
It said further: “The Police High Command uses this medium to reassure Nigerians of the willingness of the Force to discharge its constitutional and statutory responsibilities, but appeals for the cooperation and understanding of the good people of Nigeria”.
Soyinka warns of consequences
Meanwhile, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka in a statement titled, “Rivers Crisis: Final Statement”, warned of dire consequences should the crisis in Rivers State be allowed to degenerate, noting that even after the Rivers crisis has been resolved, “this notorious proceeding will not be permitted to fester unchallenged”.
The statement said: “In public interest, in order to eliminate all further distraction and enable the nation to concentrate on issues that affect the democratic pursuit, it is necessary to make the following information available: Before the press conference held by Femi Falana and myself – that is, even before the Rivers Assembly fracas – I had been canvassed by opposing sides of the face-off, both via telephone and physically. One such visit, perhaps the most significant, was made by a Special Adviser in the Presidency who outlined what can be regarded as the official rationale for the Governors’ Forum election debacle.
“In the process of this exchange, he did make certain complaints against Governor Rotimi Amaechi, including charges of a conflict of interests over certain resources. This was implied as the root of division between the Governors’ Forum and the Presidency. I wrote down the details, informed the emissary that I would pass on these accusations to Governor Amaechi – which I did. That Amaechi hotly denied them and offered contradicting facts, which he urged me to verify, remained, and remains utterly irrelevant to the democratic core of the conflict – and this has been made clear to all interventionists:
Keyed into this core are:
(i) the arithmetics of democracy involved in figures 16 and 19 at the time, and now, with increased confidence in impunity, the figures 27 and 5.
(ii) whether or not it is democratic, even cultured proceeding that a state governor is barred from public access anywhere within his own zone of constitutional authority, with the massive security apparatus of the centre, on behalf of an unelected individual. Even after the Rivers crisis has been resolved, this notorious proceeding will not be permitted to fester unchallenged.
“For the rest, since beneath the surface of most Nigerian conflicts will be found inordinate greed for public resources, it is perhaps pertinent to remind ourselves that oil is not the only marvel to emerge from the Delta swamps. There are also exotic creatures – mermaids, manatees, even mammy watas and hippopotami. However, unlike crude oil, which can be refined, you can extract a hippopotamus from the swamps, but you cannot take the swamp out of the hippopotamus”.
Hold Jonathan responsible — ACN
In a related development, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has asked Nigerians to hold President Goodluck Jonathan responsible if the country slides into anarchy as a result of the worsening crisis in Rivers State.
Reacting to the reported attack on the four governors who visited Amaechi in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, the party said in a statement issued yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Oro, Kwara State, that the attack that took place under President Jonathan’s watch was unprecedented in the country’s history.
“We will not accept the usual sophistry that President Jonathan is not in any way involved in the Rivers crisis. It is also not an excuse to argue that the President did not know that the visiting governors will be attacked, because as the country’s chief security officer, he has his ears and eyes all over the country in the persons of security agents. Therefore, if the argument is that he did not know of the attack, then he is not on top of his game,” it said.
ACN wondered when it became a sin for any Nigerian, including elected officials, to visit any part of the country as the governors did, saying there can be no justification other than organized political rascality for a group of paid hoodlums to invade a secure environment like the airport and pelt the convoy bearing the governors with all sorts of objects.
The party wondered why the Police could not provide adequate security for the visiting state chief executives and restrain the hired scallywags from their audacious action.
“Would the police have allowed tramps to attack the governors if they were visiting the President? Would the police in Rivers have allowed vagrants to act freely if those visiting Port Harcourt had come in solidarity with the five renegade members of the state House of Assembly? The unprofessional behaviour of the police in Rivers is the reason that Nigerians have accused the state police command of bias and called for the re-deployment of its ‘political’ commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu.
….Okays visit of four govs
“The visiting governors were right to have visited their Rivers’ counterpart, in the face of the siege on him by renegades being teleguided from higher quarters. They were right to had expressed solidarity with Gov. Amaechi, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. We salute the governors as true patriots and the real sustainers of our constitution, and we demand appropriate sanctions for those whose dereliction of duty put the governors’ lives in danger,” it said.
ACN repeated its earlier warning against any contrived crisis in any part of the country as a way of pushing the country into a perpetual state of chaos, thus ensuring there will be no elections in 2015.
“The politics of 2015 cannot be removed from what is happening in Rivers. We have had cause to warn Nigerians to be vigilant against those who will foment trouble where there is none, just to put in abeyance the 2015 elections, especially where the emerging signals point to the fact that they will be rejected by voters. Those who are afraid of free and fair elections in 2015 will do anything to prevent one. Therefore, we are repeating our call on all Nigerians to be vigilant, because eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” the party said.
Resign or be impeached, Moddibo tells Jonathan
Also, a group, Concerned Democrats of Conscience, has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to voluntarily resign from office or face impeachment by the National Assembly over the crisis in Rivers State.
The group at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, gave the President one week within which to resign or risk impeachment by the National Assembly.
The National Coordinator of CDC, Mr. Ibrahim Modibbo, who made the position known at a press conference in Abuja, noted with regret that events in the political circle, especially the show of shame in the Rivers State House Assembly had continued to constitute a source of discomfort to decent democrats in the country.
Modibbo warned that if the President fails to resign, the National Assembly would be approached to commence impeachment proceedings against him.
He said: “As Democrats of Conscience, we shall struggle to fight against tyranny, despotic governance and authoritarian mindset of those vested with democratic power in Nigeria. We want to stand and be counted in support of total democracy or nothing else.
“The latest onslaught against Governor Rotimi Amaechi seems to suggest a desperate voyage or better still an ego trip mostly practised by people who are consumed in senseless but highly avoidable conflicts.
“President Jonathan’s silence in the face of serial humiliation of Governor Amaechi seems to suggest that the Presidency is comfortable with the acute abuse of the Constitution, flagrant rape on the rule of law with its attendant speedy decline of law and order in Rivers State.
“Consequently, we want to give President Jonathan one week ultimatum to resign, failure which we call on the National Assembly to initiate impeachment proceedings”.
Modibbo said that it would be difficult to justify the President’s continued denial of complicity in a crisis where he said five lawmakers went to the Rivers State House of Assembly with limited understanding of the tenets of parliamentary decided, though in a failed attempt to topple the Speaker.
He said that as a symbol of democracy, the President ought to have condemned what happened in the state and ordered for a full scale investigation to safe guard against future occurrences.
He added that faking the mace by the five lawmakers, which he described as a symbol of legislative authority was criminal and therefore urged the police to immediately arrest and prosecute the culprits for plotting a coup against democracy.
Other alleged crime of the President, according to him were the ceding of oil wells of Rivers State to his home state of Bayelsa and the suspension of Amaechi by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party.
He also wondered what the President did when his bodyguards stopped Amaechi from reaching him (the President) to pay homage at an occasion in Abuja.
Modibbo also condemned the silence of the President when those he described as “some terrorists who masquerade as ex-militants with juicy oil contracts from the Federal Government, openly rebelled and protested against the Governor in Port Harcourt as the police watched with flagrant helplessness.”
“In a decent society, the President ought to have been worried when his wife, Patience, took over the state by blocking almost all the important roads, including the one leading to the Government House for 10 days,” Modibbo noted.