Saturday, 13 July 2013

Rivers crisis: Nothing must happen to Amaechi - APC govs *We're under siege here, he says *Soyinka blames Jonathan, wife

ALL the 11 governors of the yet-to-be registered All Progressives Congress (APC), on Thursday, formed a forum, christened Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), and warned that nothing must happen to the Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, while it also condemned the crisis in the state House of Assembly.
The governors are Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo; Babatunde Fashola of Lagos; Rauf Aregbesola of Osun; Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti; Adams Oshiomhole of Edo; Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun; Rochas Okorocha of Imo; Kashim Shettima of Borno; Umaru Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa; Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe and Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara.
The governors lamented that anti-democratic forces were using security agencies to threaten and intimidate the Rivers State governor.
"Anti-democratic forces are now using security agencies to threaten and intimidate Governor Amaechi and, in the process, engineer anarchy and endanger innocent lives and property in Rivers State.
"This is not only a condemnable act, but a gross abuse of power. We strongly call on President Goodluck Jonathan to not only exercise his moral authority, but also apply his constitutional responsibilities to ensure the restoration of peace and protection of the governor and all citizens.
"Should the crisis in Rivers State continue and anything happen to the governor or any official for that matter, the Nigerian leadership wouldn't be absolved of responsibility," they said.
The governors also condemned the crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly, saying it was an attempt to create state of emergency in the state.

They also condemned the role of the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Joseph Mbu, in the crisis.
"All available evidence surrounding the events of Tuesday and Wednesday indicated that Mbu and his men did not act in a professional manner.
Before now, the state police commissioner has exhibited very clear bias against the governor and other state officials. This is a dangerous development that would only produce anarchy with unpredictable consequences.
"As it is today, the orderly conduct of democratic institutions in Rivers States have been impaired and the life of Governor Amaechi and his team are in great danger. The constitutional responsibility of the state House of Assembly is being impeded and, in the circumstance, the House of Representatives has voted to take over the functions of the state House of Assembly, as provided under Ssection 11(4) of the 1999 Constitution," they said.
We're under siege here - Amaechi
Following recent developments in the state and the withdrawal of military security around the Government House on Wednesday afternoon, the state government has raised the alarm, saying the state had come under siege.
Governor Amaechi, who raised the alarm when he received the Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration, led by its chairman, Senator Kabiru Gaya, also cried out on recent attitudes of security chiefs in the state.
The Senate committee had, on Wednesday, been mandated by the Senate to investigate the legislative crisis rocking the state.
Amaechi, who said he had received a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) sent from the Force headquarters to investigate the matter, told the senators that the Government House was attacked by policemen on Wednesday, when they fired teargas canisters into its premises.
"We are under siege here, for two months now, we have not met with security men. Security commanders in the state don't come to me any longer. They are either scared or they don't deliberately want to see me. They had withdrawn soldiers attached to me yesterday (Wednesday). And this morning (Thursday), they withdrew the APC attached to Government House.
"Yesterday (Wednesday), they were shooting teargas into Government House. When we were meeting with the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) today, the Police claimed that it was inadvertent that they shot teargas into Government House. So, I asked one question, supposing it was live bullet and it hit me, they said, 'no, governor was not outside,' but I said, I was outside, you can check," Amaechi said.
Earlier, Senator Gaya said the Senate had condemned the fracas that happened at the Rivers State House of Assembly.
"This committee was mandated by the Senate to come and investigate, and also invite other members, including stakeholders.
"After this courtesy visit, we have to discuss with you (Amaechi) to know what happened from your side. We also need to talk with the Assembly members on both sides, including the Commissioner of Police, the SSS and the JTF. We have already asked the Commissioner of Police to meet us this evening and DSS commander," Senator Gaya said.
Respect rule of law, Jonathan warns Rivers PDP
Worried by the violent dimension the political crisis in Rivers State has assumed in the last few days, President Jonathan has admonished the parties in the conflict on the need to shun violence and show greater respect to the constitution and rule of law.
In a statement issued on Thursday, from Beijing, China, where he is currently on a state visit, President Jonathan noted with concern, "the recent untoward political developments" in the state and regretted the acts of political violence.
According to the statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, Jonathan urged members of the Rivers State House of Assembly and "all other political gladiators in the state to put the interests of the state and the nation above their personal egos and ambitions."
He called on all those who were remotely or directly involved in heightening political tension in the state to put an immediate end to their actions which, he said, were capable of plunging Rivers State into public disorder.
President Jonathan advised them to settle their political differences without further recourse to barbaric acts of violence.
The president, according to the statement, expected all members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, irrespective of current affiliations or loyalties, to comport themselves with greater restraint, while striving to resolve existing differences and restore internal harmony to the state branch of the party.
The presidency also noted with regret, attempts by some individuals and groups to place responsibility for the unpleasant developments in Rivers State on President Jonathan.
"There is absolutely no factual basis for suggestions that some of the politicians involved in the current dispute are acting at the behest of the president.
"President Jonathan certainly did not instigate the crisis in the Rivers State House of Assembly and as president of the nation, he will never support any actions that negate his avowed commitment to the rule of law.
"The president will also never violate his oath of office to always defend the Nigerian constitution," the statement read.
Jonathan, Patience responsible for Rivers crisis - Soyinka
Professor Wole Soyinka, on Thursday, blamed President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, for the political crisis rocking Rivers State.
Soyinka, in Lagos, lamented that democratic gains were being eroded in the state, going by the leadership crisis that engulfed the state House of Assembly.
He noted that no explanations would exonerate the president from the crisis, while calling on the Nigerian leader to rein in, the alleged excesses of the First Lady.
Speaking at a state of the nation address, he said "the perception out there in the world is that he bears a vicarious liability in the crisis."
Going historical, he added "What I want to do here is to remind you of a certain historic figure. I am sure most of us here must be familiar with Thomas Becket, who was ArchBishop of Canterbury in the 11th Century, who was murdered at the altar by four Knights of King Henry II.
"Now, I have read on the pages of newspapers and watched on television that the president's spokesmen have been trying to distance him (president) from what is happening in Rivers State. They are doing their job and I wish them well, but they have to understand that the president has to understand that the perception out there in the world is that he bears a lot of responsibility for what is happening in Rivers State.
"My reference to Thomas Becket was this: the absolute Monarchism that obtained at that time was that King Henry II saw that Thomas Becket was becoming too influencial and what he said was that: will no one rid me of this pestilence? What happened after that was that four Knights of the courts went and attacked the Archbishop at the Cathedral. Historically now, we have five operators carrying out the imaginary will of the absolute monarch. Again, another parallelism.
"Again, I have been asking myself are we not tilting towards absolute monarch? There are many ways of saying: will no one rid me of this pestilence in Rivers State? You don't have to utter a word directly but from your conduct, which can convey very strong signals or better still, say I will come after you.
"There are certain ways you can convince your followers, your officials, your cohorts that they can act with impunity. There are many ways, for instance, you can expose a prey and say 'that prey is available.' Let us go back to that historical story about 11 Centuries ago. I want you to imagine King Henry saying: find some way of making the Archbishop's carriage unserviceable or the carriage maker makes the carriage grounded, even after the king's counsel said this is unfair and that the Archbishop's carraige should be released.
"I hope you see the parallelism. I am yet to see a parallelism where the governor's plane, under dubious circumstances, has been grounded, for I don't know how many weeks now. And so, they pretend, nobody has spoken, nobody said anything in how one of your Barons or Dukes can function without a carriage.
"Now that kind of indifference can create an enabling ground for your followers or officials to take further actions, which can endanger that Baron or that Duke. I am using this parallel so that we can understand that something strange is going on."
Speaking on the perceived excesses of the First Lady, Soyinka noted that "a queen goes to the Archbishop domain, stays 11 days and the Baron is not even allowed to move, creating an enabling environment for that Baron to be dealt with. He is stopped by a Sheriff and that Baron is responsible for security and governance."
Soyinka said "I am calling on the president, please curb the excesses of your wife. Too much is too much. Is she the first First Lady we have had? She is now being used to abuse the authority of an elected governor. The governor's lodge was teargased. Anybody who said teargas was not thrown into Amaechi's lodge is either ignorant or lying. Some of Amaechi's security has been removed. The democratic grounds are being eroded. With a teargas thrown, the next one may be a smoke gun."
Mr Femi Falana SAN, who also spoke at the event, said "we have been through this route before. We must tell them that we are not conquered people. The case of Rivers is more absurd, more odious, where five members of the Assembly, aided by the state, invaded the Assembly chambers and chased away their colleagues.
"The silence of the president is an endorsement of the crisis. Let no one fool Nigerians, we know where this is coming from."
He called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, to remove Mbu as the state Commissioner of Police, for allegedly violating the Police Code of Conduct, which prohibited police officers from engaging in partisan politics.
Presidency cannot absolve itself from Rivers crisis - NLC
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) called on the Federal Government to check the descent into anarchy in Rivers State, declaring that the presidency cannot absolve itself from the crisis in the state.
In a statement issued late Thursday night and signed by the its president, Abdulwaheed Omar, the congress said the presidency should stop denying its involvement.
"It is not helpful or sufficient for the presidency to continuously deny the stoking of crisis in Rivers State. The travails of the Rivers State governor in recent times and the reaction of stalwarts in government and the ruling party are apparent indicators that the presidency cannot absolve itself from the crisis in the state," the NLC president said.
He pointed out that the threat to withdraw security to the governor, which is guaranteed by the constitution and the sour relationship between Amaechi and the state Commissioner of Police, whom he had called for redeployment, were clear pointers to the complicity of the Federal Government in the catastrophe in Rivers State.
"It is inconceivable for the governor not to enjoy respect and be so helpless in the hands of a commissioner of police. Adequate security to the governor and good relationship with the police commissioner is fundamental to peace in the state. Anything contrary is encouraging a descent into anarchy and chaos, which may well conflagrate beyond the confines of the state," he added.
Omar, therefore, called on President Jonathan "to look beyond the narrow prism of power and partisan politics and ensure that peace and harmony returns to Rivers State by redeploying the commissioner of police and displaying exemplary statesmanship by discouraging all attempts to frustrate the governor in his duties."
He said the congress would always remain on the side of enhancing and sustaining democracy and would resist impunity.
He called on workers in Rivers State to be vigilant and not allow the state to be plunged into anarchy and chaos.
Describing the situation in Rivers State House of Assembly as a show of shame, the NLC president said the development called for condemnation.
IGP sets up investigation panel
The Inspector-General of Police, M. D. Abubakar, has, in response to the unfolding events in Rivers State, set-up a high-powered investigation panel headed by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in-charge of Operations, Philemon Leha, to investigate all the circumstances surrounding the ongoing impasse in the state.
The police boss assured that the Force would not spare anyone found to have fallen foul of the law, irrespective of placement and status.
Force spokesman, Frank Mbah, said the police high command tasked on the need to play by the rules of the game, adding that "while the Force continues to do everything within its constitutional powers and means to provide a safe, impartial and conducive atmosphere for legitimate social, political and economic activities to thrive in the state, it will not tolerate any form of lawlessness or acts amounting to threats to public safety and order."
"The success of democracy depends on our collective efforts and contributions," the police boss said, adding that "we must, as a people, manage our differences to the advantage of our growing democracy for the good of all."
He reassured the people of Rivers State and the public of the readiness of the Force to, at all times, ensure the security of the state, while he implored the citizens not to further heat up the polity.
SSS probes Amaechi's CSO
THE State Security Services (SSS) has commenced a probe into the role played by the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Rivers State governor, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, in the fracas which occurred in the state House of Assembly on Tuesday.
Sources told the Nigerian Tribune that the CSO, a personnel of the SSS, was caught on camera during the fracas.
It was learnt that the CSO had been summoned to the national headquarters of the SSS to answer questions.
"His job is to protect his principal (the governor) and even advise him to stay away from the line of fire or danger. But in what we saw, he appeared to be a participant. Such conduct is clearly unacceptable. He has been asked to explain his role in the incident," a source said.
It added that the decision by SSS authorities was to prove to everyone that the service would not be drawn into politics, as the organisation maintained its neutrality in the sustenance of peace and stability of the nation.

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