Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rivers crisis: Police arrest pro-Amaechi council chairmen


Joseph Mbu
THE Rivers State Police Command has arrested two local government chairmen in the state in connection with the violent disruption of a rally by the Save Rivers Movement in Bori, Khana Local Government Area.
The council chairmen were identified as Mr. Greg Nwidad (Khana Local Government) and Mr. Demua Demua (Gokana Local Government).
A Government House source in Port Harcourt said Nwidad was the first to be invited by the state Police Command for interrogation over the shooting at the SRM’s rally.
The source said Nwidad, who had thought he would be allowed to go after police interrogation, was detained at the GRA Police Division in Port Harcourt.
It was gathered that Demua was later detained in the same manner after being invited by the police on Tuesday for questioning over the botched rally in Khana.
Gokana and Khana Local Government Areas are among the four councils in Ogoniland.
The source said, “The Khana council chairman was the first to be invited, arrested and detained by the police on Monday. His counterpart from Gokana was also arrested in a similar fashion. As I speak with you, two of them are being detained by the police.
“This is wrong in a democracy. We all know that the chairmen of Gokana and Khana cannot disrupt the rally they took part in organising. The arrest of the two council chairmen by the police is unnecessary.”
Confirming the incident, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Mohammad, said the two chairmen were arrested in connection with the attack on the participants of a rally in Bori and Khana Local Government Areas.
Mohammad said he would be able to ascertain if the two chairmen would be charged to court after the end of police investigation.
Mohammad said, “I can now confirm to you the arrest of two local government chairmen for questioning in connection with the attack on the ill-fated rally in Khana.
“But I cannot tell you now if they (council chairmen) would be charged to court. We can only talk on that at the end of our investigation.”
Meanwhile, the lawmaker representing Rivers South-East in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, has accused the Federal Government of arming youths to unleash mayhem in Ogoniland.
Abe, who is recuperating in a London hospital, after he was shot with rubber bullets by policemen at the venue of  a Save Rivers Movement’s rally, spoke on Tuesday through his spokesman, Honour Sirawo.
The lawmaker lamented that rather than implement the United Nations Environment Programme report on Ogoniland, the Federal Government was allegedly arming Ogoni youths with guns to kill their fellow human beings.
Abe said the law would take its course, no matter the circumstances.
He condemned Sunday’s attack on the supporters of the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, at Bori in Khana Local Government Area.
“Every gun has a life span of over 100 years, our politics may change. As today’s friends become opponents tomorrow, the guns will also change hands; but they will still remain lethal, even against their present owners.
“We have faced violence before and emerged victorious and sued for forgiveness as well as focus on set goals. The law, as impossible as it may look today, will one day take its course,” he said.
Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives, Ali Madaki, on Tuesday sought the sacking of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, by President Goodluck Jonathan over the lingering crisis in Rivers State.
Madaki, in his motion on the floor of the House, also prayed that the Police Service Commission  be made to dismiss the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mbu, for the same reason.
The legislator urged the House to give Jonathan and the PSC two weeks ultimatum to remove the police chiefs.
Madaki, while arguing his motion, told members of the House that the police had taken sides in the crisis in Rivers State.
He accused the police of doing the bidding of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
Madaki added that Mbu should be dismissed “for all the crimes he committed in Rivers State.”
He said the “recent shooting of Senator Mganus Abbe” was a reference point.
But the motion was objected to by the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor.
Ogor argued that it would be unfair to demand the removal of the IGP and Mbu when they had not been given the opportunity of a “fair hearing.”
He said, “Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution provides for the principle of fair hearing.
“We may pass a resolution that will become an embarrassment to the House.
“How do you dismiss someone when you have not given him the opportunity to be heard?”
However, the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, referred the matter to the Joint Committee on Rules/Business, Judiciary and Justice to deliberate on the objection raised by Ogor.
The committee was given two weeks to report back on the issue.

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