Ladies and gentlemen of the press,
This press interaction is necessitated by what has been reported in the media – print and electronic – wherein the Commissioner of Police for Rivers State, Mr. John Mukam acting under the instructions of the Inspector-General of Police, set up a parallel Task Force in the guise of a Technical Committee to ensure movement of agricultural products and other essential items into Rivers State; a committee saddled with the determination of who comes into Rivers State during this period of lockdown. In the last 48 hours that this disturbing action of the Police has been trending, we had expected the Inspector -General of Police to deny the report, but since he has not, it is well to hold that the action was actually his effort and intendment and hence this press interaction.
This development is sour and highly confrontational not only to the authorities of the Rivers State Government but to her citizens and residents. It is essentially, antithetical to and a reversal of the aims and purposes of the Covid-19 inter-state lockdown and measures to curb the pandemic thereto. It is in this regard, that we join the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers to request the Inspector-General of Police to reconsider this line of action. We run a Federal system of government and cannot afford to have two Chief Executives in Rivers State at the same time; that’s clearly an invitation to anarchy.
For the avoidance of any ambiguity, we urge the Inspector General of Police to do first things first, which is, enforcing the ban on inter-state movement as ordered by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the complete failure of the police in this regard that has worsened the Covid-19 pandemic, not only in Rivers, but nationwide.
The case of Rivers State now and indeed most Southern States is, every day, trucks ostensibly carrying food items come into Rivers State with 30-40 young men mischaracterized as “Almajaris”.
These are able bodied young men leaving their to Rivers State under the eyes and watch of the Nigerian Police and utterly against the lockdown order of the State and Federal Governments. In this instance, the Rivers State Government reserves the right to stop such violation and punish the violators. While we cannot stop them between Kano and Abia States where the Nigeria Police freely allow them passage, we can stop them at our borders and within our territory. The whole idea of temporary ban on inter-state movement of passengers is to check new infestations and spread of Covid-19.
We join the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Inspector-General of Police and by extension the Rivers State Commissioner of Police to order, by restraining the Police from establishing a parallel government in Rivers State.
We further call on Mr. President to order immediate investigation into why the ban on inter-state movement of passengers at this time has recorded near Zero compliance, despite the presence of the Nigeria police on our roads.
In the face of inertia by the Police in enforcing inter-state ban on movement of passengers while young men from a particular part of the country are freely transported to Rivers State at this Covid-19 period, widening the powers of the Police in competition with the Rivers State Government singularly, will be interpreted by Rivers people as engaging the powers and apparatus of the federal government to enforce ethnic supremacy against the Rivers people, which every Rivers man or woman will not view lightly.
Let us for the up tent time reiterate in consonance with the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers that even if the action of the Inspector-General of Police is the current national policy, why must Rivers State be singled out to commence the policy? Why is it not of general application in other States of the Federation? We feel worried and sad that the entire drama playing out in Rivers State has a semblance of a premeditated ill-will against the good people of Rivers State.
We vehemently believe that it is not the intendment of Mr. President to establish a parallel government authority in Rivers State using the instrumentality of the Nigeria Police, and so do hereby appeal to Mr. President to nip this ugly development in the bud by restraining the Inspector-General of Police from establishing a parallel government in Rivers State by whatever name called.
LOVE RIVERS STATE OR LEAVE HER ALONE.
SEN. GEORGE THOMPSON SEKIBO JP, CON
REP. KINGSLEY O. CHINDA
(For Rivers State NASS Caucus)
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