Friday, September 13, 2013

Jonathan, a bully – Governors

The Progressive Governors Forum has accused President Goodluck
Jonathan of using his powers to bully Rivers State Governor, Mr.
Rotimi Amaechi. The governors stated this on Friday while reacting
to the action of the armed policemen that blocked one of the gates
leading to the Rivers State Government House on Thursday.
The governors in a statement titled, "Blockade to Rivers Government
House: Assault on Constitution and Descent to Anarchy", said the
incident was a direct affront on constitutional order. They said, "A
situation whereby the Federal Government will use powers vested in it
under the constitution to bully and intimidate state governments is
unacceptable and should be resisted by every democratic government.
"We wish to unequivocally state our resolve to work with all
democrats in the country to ensure adequate protection of democratic
The statement was signed by Borno State Governor, Kashim Shetima;
Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode
Fayemi; Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha; Lagos State Governor,
Babatunde Fashola; Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Almakura; Ogun
State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; Osun State Governor, Rauf
Aregbesola; Oyo State Governor, Abiola
Ajimobi; Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Geldam; and Zamfara State
Governor, Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari. The governors' statement came just
as some Nigerians condemned the action of the police authorities in
Rivers and the police insisted that they did not bar the governor
from accessing Government House.
The governors said they received the news of the blockade with shock
and disbelief, adding that crisis in Rivers since July 2013
constituted a major threat to the nation's democracy.
They added that the situation in Rivers State was unfortunate and
that all Nigerians must call on the Federal Government and all its
agencies, including all arms of the security services, to respect the
letter and spirit of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
They said, "In the specific case of Rivers State, provisions of
Section 215(4) of the 1999 Constitution must be fully respected. This
section provides that the Governor "may give to the Commissioner of
Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the
maintenance and security of public safety and public order within
the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of
Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be
complied with.''
The governors noted that the inability of the federal Authorities
to exercise all the necessary constitutional and moral authority to
ensure the speedy resolution of the crisis had remained a source of
danger for the nation's democracy , the life of Amaechi and those
of other public officers serving in the state.
The governors said the police action was a bad precedent and
wondered if it was a signal that a similar blockade could be mounted
against the President at the Presidential Villa. The police had on
Thursday stopped Amaechi from using the gate to gain entrance into
the Government House. The governor was in company with 102 former
speakers of state Houses of Assembly when a team of policemen
allegedly drafted by the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu,
blocked the Forces Avenue which leads to the governor's house in the
Government House.
The ex-Speakers were in the state capital for a meeting and had gone
on an inspection tour after paying a courtesy visit to the governor.
Reacting, the New Peoples Democratic Party said what happened in
Rivers State was a sign that the country was returning to the dark
days of the former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
A statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the faction,
Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, in Abuja on Friday, said many events in the
country had shown that democracy was not being allowed to thrive.
"Indeed, General Sani Abacha must be lamenting in his grave that
Nigerians wrongly abused him considering the high degree of
impunities being encouraged in a democratic set up, with the Police
being used as a tool to haunt political opponents," the faction
We didn't block Amaechi – Police
However, the Rivers State Police Command on Thursday denied blocking
Governor Amaechi,
from gaining access into the Government House. The command in a
statement signed by its Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Angela Agabe,
described media reports on the matter as "incorrect, false,
fictitious and wrong in its entirety".
The statement reads, "The attention of the police command has been
drawn to stories making the round in the media that the police
blocked the road to the Rivers State Government House in Port
Harcourt, denying His Excellency, Governor Chibuike Amaechi ,access
to the Government House.
The police state categorically that they did not block the road
leading to the Government House, neither did they deny Governor
Rotimi Amaechi access to the Government House in Port Harcourt or
"The story is incorrect, false, fictitious and wrong in its entirety
and it is calculated to mislead the people of Rivers State, Nigerians
and the general public. The Nigeria Police Force deems it necessary
to place in proper perspective the event that gave rise to the wrong
information being peddled in the media.''
Amaechi lied – PDP
Also on Friday, the leadership of the PDP denied the blockade, saying
that the governor misled Nigerians. A statement signed by the
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh,
alleged that the governor created an impression that he was barred
by the police and the Federal Government from entering the Government
"This distortion of facts is totally unacceptable and unbefitting of
a state governor," Metu said, adding that Amaechi was aware that
based on the ruling of the courts, the police had sealed off a
secretariat illegally opened by some individuals under the name, flag
and colour of the PDP.
We have no democracy again – Amaechi
Also on Friday, Amaechi reminisced on the incident which he described
as the height of lawlessness and impunity. Amaechi, at an event for
the former speakers in Port Harcourt, explained that Nigerians were
now in a dispensation where the law was no longer supreme and urged
the people to resist impunity.
He said, "All of you saw how the former Speakers came down from the
vehicle to tell them (police) where we were coming from, but the
Police resisted. "It is for Nigerians to see that we no longer have
democracy in this country. We are now in a regime where the law is no
longer supreme. We must rise up against this impunity against our
"The National Assembly and the various state houses of assembly should
address the retirement and welfare of the ex-lawmakers, it is very
important," Amaechi said.
The Chairman of the former Speakers' Forum and ex-Speaker of the
Plateau State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong, described the
police behaviour as the highest level of impunity in the country. He
also urged the National Assembly to call for the resignation of the
Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar.
Lalong, who spoke on behalf of the ex-speakers, said that if the
police could act so unfairly where a governor was concerned, ordinary
Nigerians were not safe.
He said, "I don't think it is really police overzealousness, but the
police are controlled by higher authorities. So, if that is what is
happening, I think people should collectively call for the
resignation of the Inspector-General of Police.
"Very soon, maybe they will start arresting people in their houses. I
wonder what is really happening. I think the President must
intervene in this issue."
Also, a former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Senator
Olorunimbe Mamora, expressed sadness at the action of the police.
Mamora said, "I think, to say the least, that (roadblock) was quite
unfortunate because we were coming from an inspection of projects.
More than 70 former speakers were in the governor's (Amaechi)
entourage to inspect projects and on our way back to the Government
House, we discovered that we just couldn't pass because the road had
been blocked."
Peterside, Sagay, Okey, others react In Abuja, a member of the House
of Representatives, who is also the Chairman, House Committee on
Downstream, Mr. Dakuku Peterside, described the police action as
the height of dictatorship in the country.
Peterside, who is from Rivers State, spoke via a statement issued by
his media aide, Mr. Sylvester Asoya.
He said, "A situation whereby the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph
Mbu led police in the State, an agency funded with tax payers money,
to block the elected state governor from having access to Government
House, showed that Nigeria was on a free fall to maximum
Peterside further lamented that "the insult on the Government of
Rivers State is an affront to all elected political office holders in
Nigeria that requires definite condemnation by all lovers of freedom
and democracy."
A former chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria in Oyo State, who
is now a leading figure in the newly registered All Progressives
Alliance, Mr. Akin Oke, said the action of the police in Rivers
State was a threat to democracy, calling on President Goodluck
Jonathan to caution Mbu, for disrespecting social equality.
Similarly, a respected lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), and the
National Vice President, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights,
Mr. Taiwo Otitolaye, said the police action was a threat to
In separate telephone interviews with our correspondent in Ilorin on
Friday, they advised against acts that could jeopardize the nation's
While Sagay said the blockage was an abuse of power and a violation
of Nigeria's constitution, Otitolaye said it was an act of
"It is undemocratic. We condemn it in strong terms. It is worrisome
to us now that we are not in a military dictatorship. We do not
want to revert to that era of military dictatorship. We ask that the
presidency should not use the police or other security apparatus for
any undemocratic adventure. He should desist henceforth from such,"
Otitolaye said.
Sagay described the police action as a breach of the rule of law, a
breach of the right of the freedom of the movement of the governor;
a breach of Amaechi's right to go to his office and an inhumane
act. He said, "It is a breach of everything. It should not be seen
to happen in a civilized society or a democratic society."
Oke said, "The event of Thursday in Port Harcourt is worrisome and
disturbing, particularly at this point when we are thinking that
democracy has come to stay. For democracy to thrive in Nigeria, there
must be tolerance. When you now view it from the point that there is
no tolerance within the party (PDP), how do we grow our democracy?"

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