The All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned of the impending anarchy in Rivers that may have far-reaching consequences beyond the state, unless President Goodluck Jonathan urgently reins in his supporters who, backed by a gross-partisan police, have now resorted to bringing in ex-militants from neighbouring states to attack innocent people in Rivers.
”Having lost confidence in the ability of the police to protect them and keenly aware of the President’s deliberate refusal to allow peace to reign in their state, the patience of the people of Rivers is wearing thin, and there is an increasing possibility that they may resort to self help, which can only result in a blood bath,” the party warned in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
”Because we abhor anarchy, which is the very antithesis of democracy, we hereby call, for the umpteenth time, on President Jonathan to act today to stop the looming anarchy in Rivers unless of course he is bent on throwing the country he was elected to govern into chaos,” it said.
APC also warned that the decision of the desperate pro-Jonathan politicians and their supporters in Rivers to resort to ferrying in ex-militants from Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom to cause mayhem in Rivers and make it ungovernable for Gov. Chibuike Amaechi will have far-reaching consequences in the months ahead, most serious of which is that it will revive militancy not only in Rivers but in the entire South-South.
”The ex-militants, who are being hired daily by the anarchists in Rivers today, will turn against them and the people tomorrow when, one way or the other, the present situation in the state is resolved. The outcome will be a resurgence of insecurity, including hostage taking and attacks on oil and other infrastructure, in the entire region. This is why we are warning those who believe they are having a free rein today to tarry a while and retrace their steps,” the party said.
It expressed absolute shock that a President who has been widely quoted as saying his political ambition is not worth the blood of any citizen is now standing by, pretending to be oblivious to the happenings around him, as the same citizens’ blood is being used to water his ambition to have a second term in office.
”This President has deliberately refused to listen to the calls by numerous individuals and organisations, including the opposition parties, labour unions and the National Assembly for peace to be allowed to reign in Rivers. He has tacitly egged on the police to champion the worsening impunity in the state and even thumbed his nose at the Constitution, while the Police Service Commission has suddenly lost its steam and is even defending the arrowhead of the anarchy in Rivers.
”It is instructive that while the police have stood by and allowed hired ex-militants to attack innocent citizens whose only offence is that they are exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of association, movement and speech, the same police have provided protection for pro-Jonathan and anti-Amaechi elements who have turned the state into a battle ground.
”Twice in eight days, peaceful rallies organized by the Save Rivers Movement have been brutally broken up by police-backed hoodlums, who shot at innocent citizens including women and children; a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been shot and is now being treated in a foreign hospital and, as we write this press release, hoodlums brought in from Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom have gathered at different points in Port Harcourt to protest any attempt to remove Police Commissioner Mbu Joseph Mbu, the man who is now using the police against the same people they are paid to protect,” APC said.
The party also chronicled, for the record, the series of impunity that has helped prepared the ground for the looming anarchy in Rivers:
– Mbu practically provided the needed backing for a group of hired thugs and ex-militants with dangerous weapons to unlawfully and forcefully invade the Rivers State House of Assembly to terrorize its members, sack them and other management staff members from the complex and prevent the lawful exercise of legislative functions.
– A caretaker committee lawfully set up for Obi/Akpor Local Government Area was prevented from delivering governance to
the people due to the sealing of the LGA secretariat by police operatives acting under Mr. Mbu’s directive.
– Security details were withdrawn from the principal members of the state government, including but not limited to the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Attorney-General and principal judicial officers of the state
– Mbu again provided cover for a sponsored protest by over 5,000 ex-militants and other criminal elements brandishing dangerous weapons to completely take over and parade the streets of Port Harcourt, thereby creating fear and an atmosphere reminiscent of pre-amnesty siege in the minds of right-thinking residents.
– Mbu almost engineered an unnecessary but deadly riot by directing his men to restrain over 500 people – including traditional rulers – from the Orashi communities of Rivers State from paying a scheduled and legitimate courtesy and solidarity visit to the State Governor at Government House, Port Harcourt.
– A potential bloodbath at the Island Community of Bonny was averted only by the maturity exhibited by the young members of the Rivers Leadership Advancement Foundation in the face of serial provocation by members of the Rivers State Police Command
– When five colleagues of Governor Amaechi – who felt they were exercising their constitutional rights of free movement and association – had the temerity to pay him a solidarity visit in Port Harcourt, they were molested and humiliated at the Port Harcourt Airport by hired thugs under the protection of Mr Mbu
– Police operatives used tear gas to cause a potentially-deadly stampede through the forceful dispersal of 13,201 newly-recruited and trained teachers who had gathered at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt for the final round of their training, orientation, mobilization and deployment to primary and secondary schools.
– The Rivers State Command, acting on the orders of Mbu, blockaded a road leading to the Government House in Port Harcourt, forcing the Governor’s convoy to turn back and take another route to his official residence.
– Police prevented a plane chartered by the Governor from taking off ostensibly because it was carrying a lawmaker said to be wanted by the police. When the lawmaker was not found on the plane, no apology was issued to the Governor.
”We have decided to remind Nigerians how the situation in Rivers state got to the present dangerous level, even as calls by the nation’s lawmakers, labour unions and other well-meaning Nigerians for the redeployment of Mbu have fallen on deaf ears.
”Our party has also intervened numerous times to warn the nation that President Jonathan is using Rivers as a testing ground for fascism, especially ahead of the 2015 general elections, all seemingly to no avail as the crisis has worsened instead of abating.
”It is in this light that we reiterate our fears of a looming anarchy, which is the outcome of months of impunity, as the man who swore to an oath to ensure the welfare and security of all citizens – the raison d’etre for any government – has now become the quiet sponsor of violence against the same citizens. It is time to stop the madness in Rivers!,”’ APC said.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Interim National Publicity Secretary