PORTHARCOURT—Governors of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Nasarawa, Imo and Zamfara states, yesterday, condemned the current crisis in Rivers State and called for President Goodluck Jonathan’s intervention. They also urged all actors in the crisis to sheathe their swords.
The governors’ call came as former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who handed over to a democratically elected government in May 1999, yesterday, expressed sadness over the current crises in Rivers State, and warned the political gladiators to tread softly so as not to truncate the nation’s democracy.
Governors Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Dr Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) condemned the crisis in Rivers when they paid a solidarity visit to their Rivers State counterpart and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi in Government House, Port Harcourt. The Governors of Imo, Nasarawa and Zamfara states were represented by their deputies.
Fayemi speaks for govs
The Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Fayemi, who first spoke for the governors said: “We are here in solidarity with the governor, the government and people of Rivers State in this very challenging time. We are concerned as fellow governors representing our governments and people of our states. You may not know the deputies who are here.
Nasarawa, Imo and Zamfara governors are represented by their deputies here. I take it that you know the rest of us governors who are here in the delegation. You are also aware that some of our colleagues were here a couple of days ago.
“We are here because we think security for us is far more of a major concern to the people of Nigeria. You may be aware that today is National Economic Council meeting; all of us ought to be in Abuja attending the meeting. Our being here is not a denigration of that meeting in anyway, just to stress the importance of our concern for the security of the citizens of Rivers State. We have met with our brother and Chairman of our forum, Governor Amaechi. We had exhaustive discussions.
“He has briefed us on the situation on ground here. We do feel strongly, having listened to him, that it would be quite important for him to actually go and brief Mr President who is our leader and the Chief Security officer of the country on the very challenging security situation here in Rivers State. We believe that our chairman and brother will give serious consideration to that particular concern. We have expressed to him that it is important as Chief Security Officer of the state to take the opportunity to go and brief Mr President on the security situation.”
IGP should restore people’s confidence
The governors further enjoined the Inspector General of Police to take steps to restore confidence of the government and people of Rivers State in the Police command in the state.
According to him: “We also in our decision with our brother thought it will be important for the hierarchy of our Police authority, the Inspector General of Police to help in restoring the confidence of the people of Rivers State that have greatly been diminished in the Police service and the Command here in the state. We believe that the IG is very well placed to help take the necessary step to restore the confidence of the government, the governor and the people in the police in the state”.
While reaffirming their loyalty to President Goodluck Jonathan, the governors urged the President to wield his moral authority in ensuring that enduring peace returns to Rivers State
“We believe that the remarks really require the moral authority of Mr President and Governor Amaechi. The state of security in the entire country is also of concern to him. We believe that Mr President, being our leader, we are all Presidents men, we are all Presidents governors;.we believe that he actually occupies a very critical position that necessitates his wielding his moral authority ensuring that peace reigns here.”
Amaechi in high spirit — Zamfara deputy gov
On his part, the deputy governor of Zamfara State, Muktar Anka, confirmed that it was resolved at the meeting they had with Governor Amaechi that he should meet with President Jonathan on how to end the crisis in the state, adding that the crisis was avoidable.
He further described governor Amaechi as one accepted by his people.
“We being progressive governors, we met with our Chairman of Governors’ Forum, the Rivers State Governor. We were very happy that we met him in high spirit. It shows that he is so popular. We are very happy with that. We resolved and we advised him that he should meet with the President to discuss with him so that we can find way out of this crisis which is avoidable and we believe that by his meeting with the President actually we will find a way of resolving the crisis in Rivers State. That is all I can say after what my brother and boss, Ekiti State Governor has said.”
This would be the second solidarity visit this week by state governors to their Rivers State counterpart. Those on the first solidarity visit to him included Jigawa, Kano, Adamawa and Niger State governors.
Crisis, threat to democracy — Abdulsalami
Meanwhile, General Abubakar who spoke in an interview with newsmen in Minna, Niger State, stressed that, having been involved in peace efforts in Sudan and Southern Sudan, Nigerians should do everything within their power to prevent crisis because of the devastating effects of unrest in any country.
“I must tell you that the happenings in Rivers State are quite sad. I hope the politicians will try to put a brake and reflect on what they are doing in order not to truncate the democracy we are all enjoying now. Its quite sad.
“In a democracy, there are limits to what freedom is all about. Your freedom of speech and freedom of action stops where you start infringing on others’ freedom and I hope they will take note of that and then check themselves. I must tell you again that certainly what is happening in Rivers state is very sad,” he further added.
Abubakar who voluntarily handed over power to civilians as the military Head of State after about nine months in office on May 29, 1999, reminded politicians of limitations to their freedom of speech and actions.
He also warned politicians not to misuse the freedom they now enjoy by annoying other Nigerians to avoid any trouble that could lead to insecurity and violence in the country.
According to him, politicians across the country must tread softly as the unfolding events in the country, especially, the Rivers State crises could torpedo the nation’s democracy.
On his role in peace keeping missions globally especially in Sudan, Gen. Abubakar described the outcome as encouraging and promised not to relent until total peace returned to the affected countries.
Abubakar further said that Southern Sudan was now enjoying relative peace which had enabled it to celebrate her second year of independence few days ago.
He then urged Nigerians, no matter their position, to make peace their watch word in order to give room for the sustenance of democracy and pave way for rapid development in the country.
Police investigation into Rivers crisis one-sided — ACN
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has however urged the police to be more circumspect and avoid being partisan in their ongoing investigation into the crisis in Rivers State, if the outcome of the investigation is to be acceptable to Nigerians.
In a statement issued in Oro, Kwara State, yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the fact that only the security aides of Gov. Chibuike Amaechi have been invited to Abuja for questioning by the police hierarchy, and also the fact that only the majority leader of the State House of Assembly, Chidi Lloyd, has been declared wanted, have provided an insight into the thinking of the police on the issue.
It wondered why Rivers Police Commissioner Mbu Joseph Mbu, who provided cover for the five renegade lawmakers to attack the House while failing to provide security for the House to sit, and the leader of the renegade lawmakers Evans Bipi, who allegedly started the crisis in the House by punching Lloyd and the Speaker of the House on the face, were not invited along with the others..
‘’As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. Definitely there are two sides to every issue, including the crisis that rocked the House of Assembly last week. It therefore amounts to a warped investigation to focus only on one side, as the police appear to be doing. This kind of investigation can only lead to jungle justice, and further erode the credibility of the police, who have now descended into the arena instead of staying above the fray.
“This is why we warned, in our earlier statement, that the police should go beyond addressing the symptoms in its efforts to unravel the role played by the security agency in the festering crisis. We hate to say that the action of the police hierarchy has vindicated us,’’ ACN said.
The party said the fact that the police hierarchy appears to be shielding the glaringly-partisan Police Commissioner in Rivers (despite the shabby treatment he has meted out to the state’s chief executive) and the five renegade members has made it hard for Nigerians to believe in the neutrality of the police in this matter.
‘’Equally worrisome is the unilateral deployment of new security aides to the Rivers Government House without the usual practice of giving the Governor a say in who his security aides are. It is therefore not surprising that the Governor has raised the alarm about his personal security. After all, he does not know what instructions these new aides have, especially since the untouchable Commissioner of Police remains in the saddle!”
Meanwhile, the ACN has said the root cause of the Rivers crisis appears to have come to the fore, going by the statement credited to the First Lady on Wednesday, that it started four years ago when Gov. Amaechi apparently defied Her Excellency’s appeal not to demolish a part of Okrika.
“This revelation is a mortal blow to all those who have been struggling to distance the President and the First Lady from the Rivers crisis.”