Rivers govt raises alarm as 'unknown' officers replace Amaechi's security personnel

By The Citizen

The Rivers state government has expressed concern over the posting of four intelligence officers to the Government House in Port Harcourt, the state capital, without notifications of the postings to Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.

Two policemen have also been posted to the Governor's Lodge in Abuja.

A statement by the Secretary to the Government, Mr. George Feyii, said that 'the Rivers State Government notes with distress what is now, an apparent attack on the person of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. Yesterday, two policemen, one of who is an Inspector Bawa, reported to the Rivers State Governor's Lodge at Justice Mohammed Bello Street, Asokoro, FCT Abuja.

'They claimed to have been posted by Nigeria Police Force Headquarters to monitor the Rivers State Governor's Lodge.

'Earlier, four intelligence officers had been posted to Government House, Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Police Command. These postings were done without any notification or reference to Governor Amaechi.

'We are aware that on issues of personal safety, an official reserves the right to pick the security personnel to whom he or she may entrust their safety. This is more so in the case of a State Governor.

'The policemen this morning said that they had directives to remain at the gate of the Rivers State Governor's Lodge.

'Not only is the Rivers State Government uncertain of the true identity of these gentlemen, we are worried as to the true intent behind this latest posting. In recent times, events in Rivers State and especially around Governor Amaechi have been suggestive of deliberate nonchalance at best, and complicity at worst in the security breeches that have occurred. This trend has continued despite a passionate appeal to the highest levels of authority.

'We are worried that we can no longer guarantee the safety of Governor Chibuike Amaechi and wish to reiterate our call on all relevant authorities to ensure the safety of Governor Amaechi and the peace and security of everyone in Rivers State.'

Also yesterday, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Abubakar summoned Amaechi's Chief Security Officer (CSO), Tony Iwelu, and his Aide-De-Camp (ADC), Debeware Semeikumo (ASP) to Abuja over the political crisis in the state.

Also summoned is the Majority Leader of the House of Assembly, Mr. Chidi Lloyd. They are to report at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Abuja.

A statement by the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, said the three persons would be facing an interview panel in respect of the roles they played in the crisis, as seen in the video clips in circulation.

The statement recalled that in the said video clips, 'a man carrying a mace and another in police uniform as well as other security details were seen conducting themselves in a questionable and uncomplimentary manner.

'The invitation, therefore, seeks to obtain further details that will assist proper investigation into the matter.'

The statement quoted the IGP to have reminded police personnel on various legitimate assignments, particularly those attached to VIPs, to always remain mindful of their conducts.

He added that they must ensure that they uphold the professional ethics, traditions and best practices of the Force at all times.

'Any officer found acting in ways inconsistent with extant laws and regulations of the Force will be severely dealt with, in accordance with the laws of the land,' the IGP emphasised.

In another statement yesterday, the police also warned the citizenry, particularly those in Rivers State, against constituting themselves into, or being part of unlawful and violent assembly in any part of the country.

They are also warned against unguarded, inflammatory and provocative utterances, stressing that the police have observed with dismay, 'the attitudes of some Nigerians who have chosen the nation's airports as points of congregating their followers'.

Apparently referring to the mob attack on Amaechi and governors of four northern states at the Port Harcourt Airport on Tuesday, the police said the action did not only constitute a public nuisance, it also constituted a threat to air travellers and the airport authority as well.

The convoy of Governors Amaechi, Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano), Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) were attacked by people described as supporters of Minister of State, Mr. Nyesom Wike.

The vehicles in the governors' convoy were pelted with stones and clubs. The windshields of some of the vehicles, including the coaster bus in which commissioners rode, were smashed. The attackers were also shouting obscenities at the convoy.

'These assemblies do not only constitute nuisance to the airport environment but are also a threat to the security of both genuine travelers and the airport authority.

'Citizens are reminded that airports all over the world are regarded as restricted areas and, as such, are traditionally shielded from unnecessary intrusion.

'The Force will not hesitate from the date of this statement to bring the full weight of extant laws on persons found forming or being part of an unlawful assembly, especially riotous assemblies,' the statement warned.

They police said they are duty bound to respect and protect the fundamental rights of the citizenry to freedoms of expression, movement, peaceful assembly and association.

But such rights, they warned, must be enjoyed within the bounds of the law, stressing that gatherings must be peaceful and lawful without being intentionally contrived to provoke or abridge the rights of other citizens.

'The Force will not fold its arms and watch some persons or group of persons tear down the bond of the country's unity. The Force wishes to remind Nigerians that the laws on Unlawful and Riotous Assembly as provided for in our Criminal and Penal Laws are still in force.

'The Force further cautions against the unnecessary use of unguarded, inflammatory and provocative statements capable of promoting hatred and disunity among Nigerians.

'Citizens should at all times, in the exercise of their rights, be cautious of the likely consequences of their actions and avoid acts inimical to the well-being of the nation.

'The Nigeria Police Force has a constitutional responsibility of ensuring not just the security of citizens, but to promote the unity and indivisibility of our dear country.

'It will therefore do all within its ability to ensure that the country remains secure, peaceful and indivisible. Nigerians of all facets of life are advised to close ranks and unite to sustain the nation's nascent and growing democracy.

'The Force enjoins citizens to shun all forms of violence and unlawful acts, eschew bitterness, hatred and rancor and go about their legitimate duties without fear of intimidation from any quarter,' the statement added.

The police highest command assured the citizenry of its willingness to discharge its constitutional and statutory responsibilities of protecting lives and property.

It, however, solicited the cooperation and understanding of members of the public, particularly politicians and their supporters, in the discharge such duties.