Rivers Crisis: Nigerian Media Needs Some Soul Searching – Akinola

A Lawyer and Journalist, Richard Akinola, has joined the group of Nigerians who are against the Rivers State Police raid of the ‘Save Rivers Movement’ … Continue reading Rivers Crisis: Nigerian Media Needs Some Soul Searching – Akinola


A Lawyer and Journalist, Richard Akinola, has joined the group of Nigerians who are against the Rivers State Police raid of the ‘Save Rivers Movement’ rally on Sunday, January 12, 2014, but not without some warning for the Nigerian media.

Akinola noted on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ that by the laws of Nigeria, the Police do not have any right to stop anyone from gathering.

He explained this by citing the case of the Inspector-General of Police vs. ANPP, in which sections of the Public Order Act had been declared null and void by the court, due to its inconsistency with the provisions of Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution, which gives a right of Peaceful Assembly to every Nigerian.

He noted that if the Police according to their claims, indeed had fears that the rally could have degenerated into a crisis, the criminal code was enough to cover for their act of stepping in to prevent the degeneration, and not totally disrupting the holding of the gathering itself.

People are only meant to notify Police about their actions for the purpose of coverage and not to obtain permit; in the case of ‘Save Rivers Movement’ rally organisers, their claim that they informed the Police in a letter to apply for security already amounted to a notification.

Akinola also said that the relationship between the organisers and the Police could have been more civil, recalling several protests he had been part of, in which the Police played what he believed to be their expected role.

He submitted, “This is all politics, and unfortunately the Rivers State Commissioner of Police is too involved in the politics of Rivers State.” He likened the situation to the case of former Anambra State Governor, Senator Chris Ngige, during his tenure as the Governor, when the Anambra State Commissioner of Police was also a prominent feature in his tussle to keep his position.

He alleged that the plan of the perpetrators is to push Rivers State into a State of Emergency, but “This is not about Amaechi, it is about principle, and true democracy.”

Akinola was however reminded that the Rivers Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu, had worked in other states and with other governors without any problems, but he dismissed the claims saying that whatever his claims were, do not match up with what Nigerians have seen him do in Rivers State.

In further nullifying CP Mbu’s claims, he cited the case of the arrest of Rivers lawmaker, Chidi Lloyd, for murder. He wondered why the Police went straight to accuse him of murder when the case of manslaughter should have been the first consideration. He alleged that despite revealations that Chidi Lloyd was not the one who drove the car, with the driver having made a statement to that effect, the Police has been keeping those details from the people.

He said, “I feel disappointed in the Inspector-General of Police particularly…because I have been a silent supporter of his ideals.”

He noted that whether an event is tagged rally or gathering, the rights to peaceful assembly has been provided for, in Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution. We need to “Remove this military hangover and allow democracy to grow.”

A Channels Television viewer however brought another angle into the discussion with his contribution; a certain Dr. Bright questioned the validity of Senator Magnus Abe’s claims on the severity of his injury during the raid, as he was of the opinion that politicians take advantage of such issues to seek public sympathy.

Akinola agreed with the view on Magnus Abe, explaining that he did not feel that rubber bullet could have been shot at the Senator when the Nigerian Police was not known to use rubber bullets. He explained that what hit him may have been the canister of the tear gas. He however believed that the tear gas was indeed shot at close range.

He then berated the role of the Nigerian media in the heated political atmosphere in Rivers State and the entire country, as there were too many interests from the media. He said that he could almost tell where a story was coming from and its underlining interest, just by looking at the headline.

He warned, “Let’s be frank, the media is part of the problem and there needs to be some soul searching in the media, otherwise the media would have been totally destroyed by 2015.”

He added, “We should be very careful as a people, and never make any mistake that would allow the military to come back because the damages they made were enormous.”