Presidency under attack over shooting of senatorYouths protest
Senate calls for probe
Tinubu, David-West, CNPP, MOSOP, others condemn police action
There was outrage across the country yesterday over Sunday’s shooting of Senator Magnus Abe in Port Harcourt, Rivers State by policemen.
The popular thinking was that Police Commissioner Mbu Joseph Mbu would not have ordered his men to visit violence on innocent citizens without the backing of the Presidency.
Mbu said he ordered his men to smash a rally by the Save Rivers Movement (SRM) – a non-governmental body with affiliation to Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Tear gas canisters and rubber bullets were fired. Amaechi’s Chief of Staff Tony Okocha was hit in the leg. Abe was hit in the chest. He is believed to be receiving treatment in France, contrary to reports yesterday that he had been moved to Britain.
The Senate called for a probe.
Abe’s Ogoni kinsmen seized the East-West road in protest.
APC leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Prof. Tam David-West, a Rivers indigene, and the conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) condemned the police action.
There was no word from the police headquarters in Abuja.
The leadership of the Senate condemned in “strong terms” Abe’s shooting by the police.
In a statement by its spokesman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the Senate “deplored the escalating political violence in Rivers State”. It urged Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar to probe the incident and ensure that it does not recur.
The statement warned politicians to avoid overheating the polity and derailing the nation’s democracy.
“The Senate particularly condemns the Sunday violence which resulted to injuries on a serving senator, Magnus Abe,” Abaribe stated.
Abaribe said the “Senate is disturbed that what should have been a peaceful gathering turned violent, resulting in injuries”.
He added: “On this score, the Senate associates itself with the admonition of President Goodluck Jonathan on his pronouncement to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, wherein he warned that no Nigerian blood is worth spilling in the name of politics.
“Consequently, the Senate urges the Inspector General of Police to investigate the latest incident and ensure that it never reoccurs.
“In the same vein, the Senate advises politicians and their supporters to exercise greater restraint and avoid acts that will not only overheat the system but may harm the country’s democracy.”
Prof. David-West, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, expressed serious worry over the worsening political climate in Rivers State.
The university don, who condemned the shooting, likened the political situation in the state to that of the Western Region in the First Republic which, he said, contributed to the outbreak of the civil war.
David-West described Abe as a complete gentleman who does not deserve the treatment he got from the police.
The former minister described the attack as “the lowest depth of indecency”.
He said: “To attack somebody like that because of politics is the lowest depth of indecency. I am very ashamed as a Rivers man that all these are happening in my state. It is a great disservice to President Jonathan. Police are acting with impunity because they know they enjoy protection from the Presidency and the Inspector General of Police.
“President Jonathan should remember what happened in the Western Region, which ultimately contributed to the civil war. Anybody who sits in Abuja and is happy should have a rethink. It is not good for the state. It is not good for the country. I am very worried. With what is happening, I see a very dark cloud stretching from the Niger Delta waters to the sands of the Sahara desert. The dark cloud could consume all of us if they do not stop.
“If it does not stop, 2015 will be in jeopardy. We have never had politics this bad in Nigeria. There is politics of bitterness, ethnic problems and so.
“Senator Abe is a very gentle man. He belongs to an ethnic group. By doing this, police and their backers are stoking the fire of trouble. They should stop,” he said.
The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) promised to hold President Goodluck Jonathan responsible for the crisis in Rivers – if he does not intervene.
The umbrella body of opposition parties was angry over the shooting of Abe and others: “in the presence of CP Mbu at a peaceful rally organised by the All Progressives Congress affiliate, Save Rivers Movement in Rivers State.”
Jonathan, CNPP said, should as a matter of urgency order the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar to transfer Mbu out of Rivers.
A statement in Abuja by the National Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu, said: “Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) calls on President Goodluck Jonathan to as a matter of urgent national importance to save our democracy by nipping in the bud the gathering storm in Rivers State. The first step is to post out of Rivers State Commissioner of Police Joseph Mbu, before it is too late.
“For us, this is against police professional ethics and best practices, which means that CP Mbu had taken side, and, unfortunately, descended partially into the political arena; thereby breaching the law and enforcing a non-existing Police Permit Order.
“CNPP wishes to remind the Nigeria Police Force that the Police Permit Order had been repealed by the Appeal Court, as an obnoxious colonial order, following a suit filed by the CNPP.
“Accordingly, groups, associations and political parties are under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guaranteed freedom of association and assemblage; hence the duty of the police is to protect all and not to side any group.
“We challenge President Jonathan to direct the Inspector General of the Police to post CP Joseph Mbu out of Rivers State; failing which we shall hold Mr President responsible for the do-or-die politics unfolding in Rivers State.”