•Protesters stoned governors’ convoy – Rivers govt
•Kwankwaso, Aliyu, Lamido, Nyako demand CP’s redeployment
| credits: NAN
There was commotion again in Rivers State as thousands of youths believed to be loyal to the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, on Tuesday, reportedly threw stones and other objects at the convoy of the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
Vehicles in the convoy were conveying four northern governors – Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) – who were on a solidarity visit to Amaechi.
A bus in which some commissioners in the state were seated in was said to have had its windscreen smashed by the protesters.
But the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Angela Agabe, told The PUNCH that “there was no time the governors’ convoy was attacked.
“Nothing like that (attack) happened,” she said, adding that adequate security was provided at the airport to forestall any unpleasant development.
Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, who confirmed that a Government House bus was damaged by some youths, described the incident as a ploy by anti-democratic forces to cause confusion in the state.
Semenitari said the development had the capacity of derailing the nation’s democracy.
The youths, who are mostly members of the Grassroots Development Initiative, had expressed dissatisfaction over the visit of the governors, maintaining that they had no business being in the state.
Though some pro-Amaechi youths, who are members of Ikwerre Youth Movement, were also on the ground to forestall any untoward development at the airport, their presence did not stop the anti-Amaechi protesters.
The anti-Amaechi protesters, who got wind of the planned visit of the northern governors, had stormed the Port Harcourt Airport at about 7am and waited until about 11.40am when the governors and their host arrived. Amaechi came in from Abuja.
Aliyu, who is also the chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, arrived at about an hour later to join others who had been waiting for him.
Trouble,however, began when the governors were about leaving the VIP lounge for a journey to the Government House in Port Harcourt. The anti-Amaechi protesters moved en masse to block the governors from moving further but were dispersed by an Armoured Personnel Carrier, which was part of Amaechi’s convoy.
At that point, the governors were able to enter a vehicle that immediately left the vicinity but some vehicles in the convoy were said to have been hit by stones and other objects thrown by the protesters.
One of Amaechi’s drivers, according to a source, was said to have received two punches on his face.
Reacting to the incident, the GDI Secretary-General, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, described the protest as peaceful and successful.
He pointed out that the people of the state were not comfortable with the coming of the northern governors to the state.
Nwanosike said, “There was a peaceful protest at the airport today. Rivers people are not happy with the visit of the northern governors to our state. They should stay in their states because Rivers people can solve their political problems by themselves.
“We were about 7,000 protesting. We don’t want them (northern governors) to import Boko Haram to Rivers State.”
The youths’ position on the visit was backed by the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, which said it was “meant to aggravate the political crisis in the state.”
The Media Adviser to the state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Jerry Needam, said in a statement that it was wrong for the governors to abandon their states in order to pay Amaechi a solidarity visit.
He said, “It is the likes of these visitors that are encouraging Amaechi not to have regard for the Rivers people, elders and constituted authorities in the state.”
On the inauguration of an eight-member Judicial Commission to look into the crisis in the House of Assembly, Needam described Amaechi as a principal actor, who should not be a judge in his own case.
He said, “Amaechi can’t be a judge in his own case. Amaechi is a principal suspect in the matter. Above all, the matter is before the Senate. The Senate will give its report on Wednesday (today).
“His action is pre-empting the decision of the Senate Committee on States and Local governments. It is a shame that Amaechi will go to this length in his desperate quest for power.”
Meanwhile, the four governors , who visited the state have threatened to stop funding the police if the Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu, was not redeployed.
In a statement shortly after their meeting with Amaechi, they warned that with officers like Joseph Mbu, still in the force, they were not going to fund an antagonistic police.
They also pointed out that the call for a state police as a constitutional provision had become necessary following the actions of the police and Mbu in the State House of Assembly fracas.
Calling on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to redeploy and discipline Mbu, the northern governors described the police action as unprofessional and partisan.
They said, “We wish to call on the IG to hearken to the voice of reason and immediately redeploy and discipline Mbu. His actions smack of unprofessional conduct and partisanship unbecoming of his office.
“With the way the police are being used and abused and with officers like Mbu , we do not see the need for state governments to fund an antagonistic police and we may be forced to reconsider our financial contributions towards the Nigeria Police.”
They noted that recent developments in Rivers State had brought to the fore, the question of true federalism and the need for institutions to be allowed to perform without undue interference.
“As federating units, we must be allowed the space to guarantee our people’s sustainable development as provided by the constitution,” the governors said.
They justified their visit, saying it was to ascertain the information made available to them through the media. The governors described the events in the state as threats to peace, security and democracy.
The governors added, “Having interacted with our colleague and other persons, we are shocked at the role of the police in Rivers State and condemn their clear partisanship in the show of shame that took place in the House of Assembly.
Culled from punch