Rivers PDP crisis: Police seal off council secretariat
The crisis rocking the PeoplesDemocratic Partyin Rivers State took a fresh dimension on Friday when heavily armed policemen sealed off the secretariat of Obio/Akpor Local GovernmentCouncil.
The policemen, who were led to the secretariat by the Divisional PoliceOfficer, Rumuodomaya Police Station, about 2 pm, had ordered the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the local government, Mr. Chikodi Dike out of the secretariat.
It was learnt that the DPO had told Dike that the directive to order him out of the secretariat came from the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu.
Workers and others who were on a visit to the secretariat were thoroughly searched before they were allowed to leave the premises where a patrol van was stationed.
The policemen restricted movement into and out of the secretariat.
The state house of assembly had suspended the elected Chairman of the local government, Mr. Timothy Nsirim, for alleged reckless spending of public funds and security breach.
Nsirim was suspended indefinitely alongside his deputy, Mr. Solomon Eke, and 17 elected councillors of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
A caretaker committee chairman was, however, sworn in within 48 hours of suspending Nsirim, who is from the same area with the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike.
Speaking with newsmen on the development, the caretaker committee chairman of the council said the police tried to order him out of his office.
Dike explained that the DPO led a team of policemen to the council secretariat without a written order.
“About 2 pm today (Friday), the DPO in charge of Rumuodomaya Police Station, one Mr. Adeyemo, came to my office trying to order me out. I said why? He said he had an order from the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu, to order me out of my office.
“I asked for the order and he said he had no written order. Of course I know he has no such constitutional powers. I told him I was not leaving except by anorder of a court of competent jurisdiction. So, I told him I was not going out but will continue to do my official duty,” Dike said.
He expressed surprise that there could still be a coup by the Nigeria Police at the country’s current stage of democracy.
He said, “So, we are here constitutionally and only a constitutional means canorder us out. We cannot be intimidated. Nobody can harass us. We refused to go out from the council premises. Since then I have been doing my official duties.”
The caretaker committee chairman appealed to the people of Obio/Akpor to remain calm, peaceful and go about their normal businesses without any fear of molestation.
He said efforts made by him to reach the state commissioner of police proved futile as his (Mbu) lines were switched off.
“I don’t think this will continue till Monday. I believe they only want to intimidate us. We cannot be intimidated and we will continue to work to complement the efforts of our dear Governor, Rotimi Amaechi. We are marching forward.
“I know the Nigeria Police is a law-abiding institution. If there is need for a change, it should be done constitutionally. For now, we are in charge,” Dike added.
Police spokesman in the state, Mr. Ben Ugwuegbulam, told Saturday PUNCH in a telephone interview that the police did not order anybody out of thecouncil secretariat.
Ugwuegbulam pointed out that security operatives only went to the premises to protect the people when they learnt about a plot to attack the council.
“The commissioner of police did not direct that any council chairman should be ordered out of the secretariat. We only learnt that there were plans to attack the place and we mobilised policemen to protect the secretariat,” he said.