Group Accuses Police Of Causing Political Imbalance In Rivers State

The Coordinator of the Save Rivers Movement, Igo Aguwa, has accused the Rivers State Police Command of causing political imbalance in the state and allowing itself to be used as an instrument of impunity against the Governor Chibuike Amaechi’s administration.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Mr Aguwa traced the history of such situations to 1965, “when the Akintola led Action Group refused that the NCNC campaign in western Nigeria. In 1966 thereafter, there was a coup. You remember also in 1982, we had Adewusi as the Inspector General of Police, where the mobile police was used which led to the acronym, Kill And Go.”

He alleged that the Police Command led by Joseph Mbu, disrupted the inauguration of the NGO and also refused to provide security when hoodlums raided the rally in Khana local government because they were loyal to the opponents of the State Governor, who had staged rallies to promote the leader’s weaknesses in office.

“We believe that everybody should have a level playing field where people can sell their programme, their ideas and let the electorate decide.”

“We are only sensitising on the programmes, the positives and even receiving criticisms to act better,” he said.

CP Mbu had accused the group of campaigning without permission from the electoral umpire, INEC, but according to the former House of Reps member, campaigning as defined in the Electoral Act “talks about people campaigning for elective positions.

“That does not mean that the parties will be docile until anytime there’s an election.”

He continued by saying: “It’s getting to the election period, let’s face it. That is why the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) has been going around in Rivers State, selling the negative ideas of the government and highlighting the weak points” adding that “nobody is perfect.”

“In that same way, Save Rivers Movement is going around highlighting the positive parts of the government so that you don’t have only the negative perceptions out there in the market.”

Aguwa expressed fears that “what is happening in Rivers state is capable of undermining democracy in Nigeria.”

He admitted that the SRM was on a campaign to neutralize the perceptions being spread by Governors Amaechi’s opposition. “The SRM believes that the government has done well and our ideal is on promoting good governance,” he said.

Asked why the group is carrying out political activities using the NGO as cover, Mr Aguwa said “the truth of the matter is, an NGO could be politically inclined, could be health inclined. It could have any inclination but the important thing is we are not sponsored by government.”

He added that “it is within our rights within the constitution to have that NGO.”

He advocated that the group be given a level playing field as the State Police Command led by Joseph Mbu, had given protection to the opposition group, GDI, the same day the SRM rally was disrupted.

“The field is not level. What is titling the field right now is the impunity of the police,” he said.

He countered arguments that political gatherings are banned until INEC gives permission, adding that only campaigns for political offices are not allowed.

He stated that the bad blood between the Police Command and the group was a recent development as he had met with the Police Commissioner, as a friend, before the Obiakpor rally which was disrupted. “There was no indication that that would happen,” he added.





Police Are Aware Of Plan To Attack Save Movement Rally -Amaechi

The Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, says the State’s Commissioner of Police, Mr Joseph Mbu, has prior knowledge of the attack on citizens at the venue of the Save Rivers Movement rally held in Khana local Government Area.

Addressing reporters after the rally was disrupted by hoodlums on Sunday, Amaechi insisted that Mr Mbu had declared war on Rivers State people and had also warned the police not to come to the venue of the rally.

He pointed out that the decision was a clear signal that he was aware that the attack would be carried out.

“If he was not aware, why did the police not respond when the people started shooting by 4: 00am? When they started shooting from 4:00am to 6:00am what did the police do?

The governor also said that the incident showed how desperate the Federal Government was over the 2015 election.

They want to win the presidential election and governorship election at the cost of human lives. They don’t care.

“They attacked pressmen and attacked citizens and the commissioner of police did not react?

The police in the state had said that there were no casualties but the governor said that two persons were injured by the hoodlums.

“Two people are lying critically ill in the hospital, which I have to visit, Governor Amaechi said.

He pointed out that the Oath of Office taken by elected officials specified that they must protect lives and property.

“The President, Goodluck Jonathan, holds the Rivers State people the responsibility of protecting their lives and their lives are not being protected,” he stated.

Organisers Don’t Need Police Permit To Hold Save Rivers Rally – Suraj

Anti-corruption activist and public affairs analyst, Olanrewaju Suraj on Monday described the disruption of the Save Rivers Movement Rally in Rivers State, as an ‘unconstitutional act’ encouraged by the Goodluck Jonathan led administration, adding that organisers did not need the permission of the police to hold a peaceful rally.

“There’s nowhere in Nigeria where you need to obtain a permit to hold a rally” as “it was the decision of a competent Court of Appeal in Nigeria that the demand for police permit to hold a rally is illegal and a violation of the Constitution,” Suraj said, adding that the issue of a permit was a ploy by the Police to hoodwink Nigerians.

Speaking on Channels Television’s flagship programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Suraj stressed that the disruption of the event, ordered by the State Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu, was against the law as organisers had the right to associate as stated in the Nigerian Constitution.

He also said that the organisers did not need to obtain a permit from the Police before staging the rally as stated by Mr Mbu who claimed that the rally was political in nature.

“It tells us how much the law enforcement agents are either ignorant of the law or consciously violating the laws of the lands in a bid to protect and promote a certain interest within the system at the expense of the country,” Mr Suraj said.

A fresh spate of crisis drew nationwide attention on Sunday when men of the Rivers State Police Command at about 5.30am on Sunday, stormed the Rivers State College of Arts and Science in Rumuola, venue of the proposed Save Rivers Movement (Rally) scheduled to hold at 1 PM.

The Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu, had also been labelled partisan by critics who claimed he was working against the Governor Chibuike Amaechi administration, as a result of his allegiance to the President and First Lady of the country.

Several citizens including Senator Magnus Abe sustained different degrees of injuries during the raid.

In reaction to this, Mr Suraj warned that the “disintegration of this country is likely to start from Rivers State and not the Boko Haram.”

Rivers Assembly: Police Received Letters From Two ‘Speakers’

A member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Kelechi Nwogu, on Saturday told Channels Television via a telephone interview that Police had received two letters from two different Speakers, notifying them of their intention to resume session.

Speaking on Sunrise, Mr Nwogu who had initially denied the existence of factions among lawmakers, said that Evans Bipi, who he (Nwogu) referred to as ‘Speaker’ “had issued a statement that the house was supposed to reconvene on Friday and sent a letter to the Police” but the Police informed Mr Bipi that they received a letter from another party also claiming to be Speaker.”

According to him, this caused the Police to barricade the House of Assembly as a means to avoid the repetition of violent acts which led to the National Assembly take-over in the first instance.

Nwogu also said the “National Assembly took the Rivers State job in a hurry” and added that the authenticity of the recognised Speaker, Otelemaba Amachree, must be ascertained before progress can be made.

In July, mayhem broke following an attempt by 5 members of the House, led by Hon. Evans Bipi to impeach the Speaker, Amachree.

5 months later, Justice Ahmed Ramat of a Federal High Court in Abuja declared the National Assembly take-over of the Rivers State Assembly as ‘unconstitutional, null and void’ based on NASS’ failure to produce evidence that the State Assembly could not transact legislative business.

On Thursday, and barely 24 hours after the court ruling, the lawmakers gathered for session in front of the State Assembly but were dispersed by the Police.

Speaking on Sunrise, Chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Olanrewaju Suraj, said that the crisis which has engulfed the state is as a result of the competition between two political opponents which the judiciary and the (presiding) judge pretended to be “completely oblivious” of.

“The only thing that judge (and the judiciary) has done with the decision on that Wednesday is to bring about the total collapse of Nigeria” because “what you had in Rivers State prior to the intervention of the National Assembly was a dangerous trend.”

The President, Leadership Watch, Martins Nwayawu, agreed with Mr Suraj’s assessment of the situation and added that the ruling of the judge showed that “he is living in a different planet.”

He continued by saying “no judge in his right senses would sit somewhere and give a judgment that the members of Rivers State House of Assembly can go back to resume their legislative functions.”

Security expert, Oladeinde Ariyo, faulted actions of men of the Police in barricading the State Assembly Complex on basis that it did not receive instructions to permit the lawmakers to enter.

In light of the unresolved issues amongst the lawmakers, a peace meeting should have been called to help reconcile their difference in order to avoid violence.