The Progressive Governors Forum has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of using his powers to bully Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi. The governors stated this on Friday while reacting to the action of the armed policemen that blocked one of the gates leading to the Rivers State Government House on Thursday.
The governors in a statement titled, “Blockade to Rivers Government House: Assault on Constitution and Descent to Anarchy”, said the incident was a direct affront on constitutional order. They said, “A situation whereby the Federal Government will use powers vested in it under the constitution to bully and intimidate state governments is unacceptable and should be resisted by every democratic government.
“We wish to unequivocally state our resolve to work with all democrats in the country to ensure adequate protection of democratic governance.’’
The statement was signed by Borno State Governor, Kashim Shetima; Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole; Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha; Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola; Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Almakura; Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola; Oyo State Governor, Abiola
Ajimobi; Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Geldam; and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari. The governors’ statement came just as some Nigerians condemned the action of the police authorities in Rivers and the police insisted that they did not bar the governor from accessing Government House.
The governors said they received the news of the blockade with shock and disbelief, adding that crisis in Rivers since July 2013 constituted a major threat to the nation’s democracy.
They added that the situation in Rivers State was unfortunate and that all Nigerians must call on the Federal Government and all its agencies, including all arms of the security services, to respect the letter and spirit of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
They said, “In the specific case of Rivers State, provisions of Section 215(4) of the 1999 Constitution must be fully respected. This section provides that the Governor “may give to the Commissioner of Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and security of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with.’’
The governors noted that the inability of the federal Authorities to exercise all the necessary constitutional and moral authority to ensure the speedy resolution of the crisis had remained a source of danger for the nation’s democracy , the life of Amaechi and those of other public officers serving in the state.
The governors said the police action was a bad precedent and wondered if it was a signal that a similar blockade could be mounted against the President at the Presidential Villa. The police had on Thursday stopped Amaechi from using the gate to gain entrance into the Government House. The governor was in company with 102 former speakers of state Houses of Assembly when a team of policemen allegedly drafted by the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu, blocked the Forces Avenue which leads to the governor’s house in the Government House.
The ex-Speakers were in the state capital for a meeting and had gone on an inspection tour after paying a courtesy visit to the governor. Reacting, the New Peoples Democratic Party said what happened in Rivers State was a sign that the country was returning to the dark days of the former Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
A statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the faction, Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, in Abuja on Friday, said many events in the country had shown that democracy was not being allowed to thrive.
“Indeed, General Sani Abacha must be lamenting in his grave that Nigerians wrongly abused him considering the high degree of impunities being encouraged in a democratic set up, with the Police being used as a tool to haunt political opponents,” the faction said.