The sudden withdrawal of soldiers of the Joint Task Force (JTF) attached to the Rivers state Government House as well as the Amoured Personnel Carrier (APC) stationed there has raised fears about Governor Rotimi Amaechis’ safety.
Though, men of the State Security Service (SSS) and the police attached to him are still intact, the Governor is however not deluding himself that all is well.
Realizing the obvious danger ahead, Governor Amaechi late Wednesday, raised the alarm over his safety, expressing fears that anything could happen.
The protracted crisis that has engulfed Rivers state of late took a dangerous dimension on Tuesday, when pandemonium broke out at the House of Assembly. It was reported that hoodlums invaded the hallowed chamber and attempted to hijack the mace, the Speaker’s symbol of authority.
Rivers state Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu has been accused of partisanship in the whole crisis. The state government and members of the House of Representatives have called for his redeployment.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a motion to take over the functions of Rivers state House of Assembly, invoking Section 11, sub-section 4 of the 1999 Constitution.
Also, the Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, briefed Vice President Namadi Sambo about the situation in Rivers. President Jonathan is away in China on a five-day state visit.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Olubolade called on the people not to believe whatever they see on the video clips and even the photographs but sought of saying they may have been manipulated.
According to him, “when you look at what happened in that assembly; don’t take it as you see the photograph because somebody has a duty to perform whichever side because both sides have security men attached to them. We must be careful in jumping into conclusion. Let us see how it plays out”
On his part, IGP Abubakar, said “the police have a responsibility to protect the citizen of this country. But remember we saw the video clip and you saw those who went to the assembly. I think you should be asking who were those who went to the assembly?
He however assured that any police found culpable in the crisis will be sanctioned. Abubakar also disclosed that the DIG, Operations has been sent to Port Harcourt to investigate and report back in earnest.
“I have sent a DIG in charge of operations, he is in Port Harcourt and he will brief me the happenings and the action taken by police in Rivers and necessary action will be taken against anybody who has anything to defend”.
Governor Amaechi has been at loggerhead with the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the control of party structure. The Felix Obuah-led executive, backed by the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, is not comfortable with the perceived Vice Presidential ambition of Governor Amaechi, which they believe could jeopardize President Goodluck Jonathan’s chances for a second term in 2015.
Obuah recently led party leaders and elders from the state, including former governor Peter Odili to the Presidential Villa, Abuja to apologise to President Jonathan over what Obuah described as embarrassment the governor may have caused the President.
“We are pained and our heart bleeds today that the main champion of opposition in the country against Mr. President and indeed the Federal Government is our own son, Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.
“This is indeed shameful; we did not know what has come over the young man. Is it that he wants to destabilize the PDP before his eventual movement to his new party having been handed over the ACN / APC structures in Rivers state?
“We sincerely apologise to you (President Jonathan) and the First Lady on this sad situation. We appeal that as the saying goes, you do not visit the sin of the father on the son and implore your Excellency, to remember us in your prayers.
“To demonstrate that Rivers people are not with Governor Amaechi in this hostile attitude against Mr. President and our great party, we shall continue to support his (Amaechi) suspension from the PDP by the National Working Committee until he retraces his steps from engaging in anti-party activities”, Obuah had told the President.
Already, pundits are saying the protracted crisis in Rivers may not be unconnected with the face-off between President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi. Recently, the Governor was re-elected as the chairman of the all-powerful Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) by 19 votes to 16.
Surprisingly, President Jonathan has refused to recognize Amaechi as the chairman of the NGF even though he has also denied having a hand in the crisis rocking the Forum.
But recently at a meeting on HIV/Aids attended by some Governors at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, when it was the turn of Governor Jonah Jang, the factional chairman of the NGF to speak, President Jonathan said, “ Yes, Governor Jang, come and speak on behalf of all governors as the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum”.
As the situation in Rivers is fast degenerating, it is hoped that the law enforcement agencies will shun partisanship and quickly move to prevent complete anarchy that may result in loss of lives.