In a statement issued on Sunday, the opposition party alleged that “PDP-sponsored and police-backed militants” attacked a peaceful rally in Rivers State with guns and other weapons for the second consecutive Sunday.
Interim National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the hoodlums, who invaded the venue of the rally by the Save Rivers Movement in Bori, where the executive of the pan-Rivers group in Khana Local Government Area of the state were to be inaugurated, attacked those in attendance and beat up some of the journalists who were invited to cover the event, damaging their vehicles and equipment in the process.
It said while the attack was going on, the police – who had been formally informed of the rally, and were expected to provide protection – instead gave the hoodlums a free rein, in the most egregious and open display of partisanship by an institution of the state saddled with ensuring the protection of lives and property of all citizens.
APC said the police carried its partisanship to another level when, the previous day (Saturday), it “sent over 300 men to protect a pro-PDP rally that was used solely to launch a blistering verbal assault on the APC and Gov. Chibuike Amaechi.”
It said, “The same police have offered protection for a Pro-PDP group, GDI, which is holding another rally in Degema on Sunday.
”Today’s (Sunday’s) attack came a week after a similar one saw a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Magnus Abe, shot by policemen who also attacked and tear-gassed innocent women and children, among others.
”As the presidency-backed impunity in Rivers worsens, we at the APC are left with no choice than to alert all well-meaning Nigerians as well as the international Community to call President Jonathan to order, since he has refused to allow peace to reign in the state just because of his personal ambition.
”Because of the danger this state-backed thuggery can inflict on our young democracy; because of the harm being done to the polity by escalating political violence; and because of the fact that impunity does not breed peace, we will continue to cry out, hoping that reason will prevail and that President Jonathan will no longer allow his ambition to be watered by the blood of the same citizens he swore an oath to protect.
”It is clear that despite the presidency’s loud silence on the Rivers crisis, it is the architect of the violence in the state, and the 2014 Ekiti and Osun governorship elections and the 2015 general elections are the reasons. That is why we will not relent in blaming the presidency for the violence. Surely, when the presidency is tired of violence, peace will return to Rivers state.”
Meanwhile, the APC has condemned the Police Service Commission for its defence of the Rivers State Police Commissioner, Joseph Mbu, saying the commission, by its “unimaginative action”, is taking directives from the Presidency, which the party described as the sponsor of the “impunity” in Rivers State.
In a statement in Lagos on Sunday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party wondered if the PSC understood the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as far as the role of a police commissioner was concerned.
APC said, “For the avoidance of doubt, we quote Section 215 (4) of the Constitution, which stipulates: ‘Subject to the provisions of this section, the Governor of a State or such Commissioner of the Government of the State as he may authorize in that behalf, may give to Commissioner of Police of that State such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing 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’.”
APC said if the PSC clearly understood the stipulation, it would not only be talking of Mbu being redeployed but should by now be “justifying the dismissal of the impudent police boss, who has continuously violated the Constitution not only by refusing to take lawful orders but by also constituting himself into the opposition, the de facto chairman of the PDP, in Rivers.”
It added, ”If the PSC wants to be truthful, it will admit that no one but the police commissioner has politicized his own office. It will also admit that no one has asked the police commissioner to be the Governor’s errand boy, as claimed by the PSC, but to simply carry out his duties as stipulated by the Constitution. If the PSC still does not understand, it should tell Nigerians in which other state of the federation is a police commissioner usurping the role of the Governor as the Chief Security Officer of the state.”