A legal practitioner, Ken Asuette, has accused the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu of attempted murder for using tear gas to disperse a peaceful assembly in the state last Sunday.
Recalling the death of Chuba Okadigbo following a police raid at a rally in Kano state in 2003, Mr Asuette, a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the intention of the Police commissioner was to harm citizens.
“Let us remember what happened to Chuba Okadigbo, it was tear gas inhalation that killed him. Now, the same tear gas is what Mbu has released against innocent Nigerians which means that Mbu’s intentions are to kill Nigerians just the way tear gas was used to kill Chuba Okadigbo,” he stated.
He further challenged the CP to prove that his allegations are untrue.
He gave his account of the events which led to the disruption of the Save Rivers Movement Rally by men of the Rivers State Police Command, adding that “there’s no justification whatsoever” for the act.
According to Asuette, a letter was sent to the Commissioner to Police, Joesph Mbu, notifying him of the inauguration for last Sunday 12th January, another for next Sunday and members of the group had “specifically asked for police protection.”
The letter was acknowledged and stamped by the Police but “no information (written or unwritten) was related to this group to say you are banned or your inauguration (not a rally) should not hold because there are security reports that there might be some public disorder.”
He noted that the Save Rivers Movement is a registered organisation with ‘credible members’ including lawyers, doctors and engineers and so the said rally was to “inaugurate the Obi Akpor branch” of the association “within a particular confine, at the Rivers State College of Arts and Science.”
Mr Asuette also mentioned that he had noticed a trend in the activities of the Rivers State Police command
“In July 2013, the Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition that I belonged to wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Police notifying him of our intention to hold a (peaceful protest) rally in the Port Harcourt stadium.
However the event could not hold as the “police barricaded that part of Port Harcourt a day before that programme. Our members were beaten and dispersed even when we tried to say we have the constitutional right to gather, the police acted with impunity thinking that we were a political organisation.”
“Courts have decided in ANPP and IGP that nobody should stop any Nigerian from gathering and in that judgment affirmed by the Court of Appeal, there is an order of perpetual injunction against the IGP his agents which include Joseph Mbu from restraining anybody from gathering,” Asuette stated.
He stressed that “there’s no justification whatsoever for what happened on Sunday.”
Asked if there was a possibility of the Police obtaining an intelligence report of impending doom at the last minute necessitating the raid, Asuette said such report was yet to be made public.
He added that the police commissioner was “running wild without respect for the Constitution and elected authorities” as neither the President nor State Governor, could not have given him the order to carry out the raid.
“Every right provided for in the whole hog of section 33 of the constitution to section 45 of the constitution has been breached collectively by one police command under one police commissioner who does not respect constituted authorities,” he said.
Sunday’s event led to the hospitalization of Senator Magnus Abe while several others sustained injuries. Asuette added that properties including cars were also destroyed.
The Senate Committee on Police Affairs is currently conducting an investigation on the matter which has attracted national interest. The Committee, chaired by Paulinus Uwagwu, is expected to submit its findings to the Senate when the House resumes plenary.