Rivers Crisis: Senate In Rowdy Session, Summons IGP
Condemns Police Disruption of SRM Rally SAN FRANCISCO, January 22, (THEWILL) - A rowdy Senate in plenary on Wednesday summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, to appear before it on a yet to be scheduled date.
He is to brief the Senators and give situation report on the Rivers State crisis.
The senators also condemned as unjustifiable, the disruption and interruption of the proposed peaceful rally and gathering of Save Rivers Movement (SRM) by the men of Rivers State Police Command, occasioned by sporadic shooting of gun and tear gas at the Rivers State College of Arts and Science in Obio/Akpo Local Government Area of the state.
These were the highpoint of the resolutions sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Wilson Ake (Rivers, PDP) The motion was nearly shot down but efforts of Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta) to stop it failed.
He had through a point of order, demanded to know the status of the Senate as per the earlier resolution to take over legislative function of Rivers State and also the reports of the Police Committee on the alleged shooting of Senator Magnus Abe.
However, the Senate nearly went into a raucous session, when Senator Ahmad Lawan and Senator Manager almost engaged in fisticuffs, but for the timely intervention of colleagues.
Speaking against the motion also, Senator Johnson T.
Sekibo (PDP, Rivers), accused Senator Ake of fabricating stories, saying the motion lacked evidence as he called on his colleagues to disregarded the motion.
'Senator Abe can speak for himself and so if he comes and provide evidence that he was shot, I will join to support him.
If eventually Abe was shot, I will personally rise in his defence, because what happened to him may happen to another person.
If he was not shot, what is the need of fabricating a story.
Such a story will not do anyone any good.
"People should be wary of accusing one group of masterminding the violence.
It takes two to cause violence.
The crisis in River does not involve just one person.
The motion lacks details,' Hon.
His statement drew an angry response from senators from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and this nearly plunged the Senate into a rowdy session.
The rowdiness was later calmed down by the intervention of the Senate President, David Mark, who appealed to the lawmakers to handle the Rivers issue with caution.
Mark also admonished all those involved in the Rivers State crisis to weigh the implication of their activities.
"There is a need for all the agencies involved to consider and weigh their activities in Rivers State.
Whether it is the Police, the Army or the politicians, government officials or civil society groups, nobody has the exclusive preserve of violence.
Any side can have it.
The only reason I allowed this motion is because a distinguished senator is involved .
"But our own life in the chambers here is not more precious than that of any other Nigerian in this country.
But we are all disturbed about the situation in Rivers State.
"My suggestion on this matter now, so that tempers would not rise, is to go straight to the prayers and take the prayers that are important.
"And at that point, if for any reason we agree that we invite the IGP here, then we will all have the opportunity to ask him all the clarifications we need," he said.
Moving the motion earlier, Sen.
Wilson Ake noted with dismay that the nation has witnessed once again, a new dimension in disruption and obstruction of a political gathering and meetings of the people in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
He added that he was deeply disturbed that on January 12 , the expected relative peace and calm the people of Rivers State were enjoying was sadly interrupted by the attack on the people of Obio/Akpo Local Government Area of Rivers State and its environs by the men of Rivers State Police Command.
The Police stormed the venue of a programme to inaugurate the Save Rivers Movement and dispersed the peaceful crowd that gathered at the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, with tear gas, sporadic gun shooting and other weapons of similar character.
He said he was further disturbed that a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of the Nigeria, senator representing Rivers Central Senatorial District, Sen.
Magnus Abe was allegedly shot at and hit with rubber bullets by the men of Nigeria Police who stormed the venue of the rally with unprecedented concentration of armoured personnel carrier and heavy presence of men and officers of the Police.
He said the well planned and premeditated attack on innocent citizens encourages criminal impunity, act of recklessness and lack of maturity on the part of men of Nigeria Police, thereby casting doubt as to the capacity of our security agencies to provide the much constitutional guaranteed rights to protection, freedom of association, freedom of movement and defending ordinary citizens regardless of political affliction across the country.
He observed that the incident has exposed the excesses of the Nigeria Police to peaceful rallies and political gathering, especially in circumstances that lack evidence of immediate threat to life and human safety.
He noted that Rivers State under the present leadership of the State Police Command has witnessed too many simultaneous attacks professionally unleashed on the ordinary citizens of the State and its environs.
Nonetheless, Senator Ake said he observed that the increasing and continuous attack, disruption and arbitrary obstruction of any peaceful gathering in Rivers State, be it political, religious or civil meetings by any of our security agencies will further create more anxiety, panicking and eventual loss of confidence in the security system which are meant to protect and defend all and sundry.
Meanwhile, the Senators rejected the call to immediately put in motion, the implementation of the Senate earlier resolution calling for the redeployment of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr.
Mbu Joseph Mbu , without any further delay.
It also refused to condemn the Rivers State Command under the Commissioner of Police, Mbu, for ordering the alleged shooting of Senator Magnus Ngei Abe with rubber bullets and those other victims of the attack on the January 12 at the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Port Harcourt.
BY EMMA UCHE, ABUJA