#SaveRiversRally: Police Area Command Was 400 Meters Away

The Chairman of Eleme local government area in Rivers State, Oji Ngofa, on Monday alleged that a Police Area Command was 400 meters away from the venue of the Save Rivers Movement (SRM)rally which was marred by violence on Sunday, wondering why officers of the Force did not come to the rescue.

“The venue of the rally was not up to 400 meters from the Bori Area Command but police didn’t do anything and the hoodlums (from wherever they came from) started shooting, chasing people away, damaging property and all that,” he said.

Ngofa whose LG is near to Khana Local Government, where the attack occurred, disclosed that problem started at about 4 AM on Sunday morning when the hoodlums started shooting and then returned when organisers of the rally started setting up.

“There was no way they would say that they didn’t hear the gunshots,” Ngofa said, adding that efforts of the SRM to secure police assistance yielded nothing.

However, the Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu told Channels Television via a telephone interview that the group did not invite the Police and also did not request security presence for the rally.

In response, Mr Ngofa said “that is not true” because the same letter written to the Police, seeking security, last week covered two events including Sunday’s rally.

On allegations that the group was trying to stage campaign rallies, Ngofa said the mission of the Movement was to “promote good governance.”

Although the identity of the attackers remains unknown, Ngofa said residents of Khana local government would be able to point out the perpetrators.

Contrary to claims by the State Police Commissioner, Mbu, Mr Ngofa disclosed that the group had made attempts at informing the police of the event beforehand. He added that the lawyer of the group, Ken Asuette went to the Police command on Friday to remind the Force of the rally which was to hold on Sunday.

He further stated that the refusal of the Police to do its job indicates that they are lying and playing games.

“It is a gang up to bring a reign of terror on Rivers people.”

Members Of Save Rivers Movt. Are Victims Of Political Megalomania – Mbu

The Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Joseph Mbu, has accused the members of the Save Rivers Movement, a non-governmental organisation, of being victims of ‘political megalomania’ for being bold enough to stage yet another rally on Sunday despite the mayhem which occurred at their programme, last week.

“They (SRM) are trying to tell the world that they are really victims of political megalomania. They are power drunk,” he said adding that the decision of the SRM to go ahead with its rally despite the mayhem which occurred last week is a bold attempt at telling people that “they are still in control.”

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, via a telephone interview, Mr Mbu responded to claims that the Police did not rush to the scene of the rally when armed hoodlums attacked citizens and destroyed property, including Channels Television’s Open Broadcast Van and bus.

Mr Mbu who had been in the eye of public after ordering his men to disrupt the rally last week based on the argument that he did not grant permission for the event to hold, insisted that the Police was not invited to ensure law and order at Sunday’s event.

On the botched rally of last week, the CP said “I sent men as early as 5 0’clock to dominate and take over that premises.” However, “that of yesterday, nobody applied to the Police. It was about 4 hours later that the area commander called me and said that the Chairman of the local government went to his office to report that hoodlums invaded where they were going to hold the rally and everything was scattered.… I told him that this Save Rivers Movement is government instrument. They feel they are above the law and if you know that you are above the law and a thing of that nature happens, you should go and contact the thugs to go and fight for you. You don’t need to come to the police station because you think you are above the law.”

He continued by saying “If they had applied to us and we have considered the security location and that the place is safe, I would have approved and I would have given them enough policemen.”

Describing the group as disorganized and lacking respect for law and order, he further alleged that “the policemen who were shooting there were the orderly of the Chairman of the Local Government and four other policemen brought in by the Commissioner for Works.”

The Commissioner of Police assured that investigations are on-going and promised that “whoever authorised such policemen is going to be disciplined, whether he is a civil commissioner or he’s a police officer.”

He said the Police was not aware of the mayhem but only deployed “a unit of conventional policemen as well as a unit of mobile policemen” after a report was made at the station.

He also hinted that the Police will not rule out possibilities that the group was involved in the fracas. “Sometimes, the person who commits the offence is the one who cries foul,” he said.

“The information we have is that the policemen attached to the DPO and to the Chairman and the ones attached to the Commissioner for Works were responsible for the shooting but we are investigating it.”

“We are the police and we are in charge of security and order. If anybody is in distress and calls us, whether you have made a mistake or not, we must come there to salvage and then to save your life. We were not invited. We were invited only after the destruction had been done and we don’t know who did that destruction.”

Lawyer Accuses Rivers CP, Mbu Of Attempted Murder

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.