Opinion: Amaechi and the Rivers CP – The unending battle of wits

by Adelani Adepegba


Amaechi said, “We have held Security Council meetings two or three times. But before Mbu came, we used to hold security meetings two or three times every month. We knew where our youth corps members were and we knew the level of security arrangement we put in place to protect them. We also sent the SSS to watch over them.

Those who knew Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, when he was the CP in charge of the Mobile Police Unit at the Force Headquarters Abuja, can attest to his gentle disposition and dedication to duty. While his headship of MOPOL lasted, there were no complaints about his work ethics nor did anyone accuse him of professional misconduct.

It was widely believed that his redeployment to Oyo State Police Command as CP was largely due to the confidence the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, reposed in him. But no sooner had Mbu resumed in Ibadan than he became embroiled in a civil matter that brought his sojourn in the state to an abrupt end.

Trouble started when Mbu allegedly ordered his men accompanied by two Armoured Personnel Carriers to seal off the ancestral palace of the Asipa of Oyo in February, 2013. The police arrested the head of the Asipa Family, who is also the Alago of Ago-Oja, Chief Ganiyu Ajiboye. He was not only whisked away, his vehicle was impounded while his palace was sealed. Ajiboye had a running battle with the state government over his claim to the title of Ashipa. As soon as he regained his freedom, the Asipa sued Mbu and the police for N1 billion for illegal and unwarranted invasion and subsequent occupation of Asipa’s palace. Following the uproar that attended the incident, Mbu was redeployed to Rivers State in March.

The CP had barely spent two  months at his new command when he and the state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, became entangled in a controversy over who should be in control of the security system in the state. The rift between them widened when the CP directed his men to seal off the secretariat of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council on May 3, after the Rivers State House of Assembly suspended the Chairman, Vice Chairman and 17 councilors over allegations of abuse of public funds and breach of security.

Since then, the two men had been throwing verbal missiles at each other with the governor accusing the CP of being a mole and an agent of “Abuja politicians.”

Amaechi alleged that insecurity had returned to the state since Mbu became the state police commissioner. He urged the Inspector General of Police to redeploy him. He said, “We used to have a wonderful security system with commissioners of police who understood their functions and knew what to do. But since the police in Abuja suddenly posted the person called Joseph Mbu, nothing has been working again. Mbu has been sitting with politicians for political reasons and the security system is in disarray. Since he came, we have never had peace.”

The recent abduction of three members of the National Youth Service Corps provided fodder for the governor to further attack Mbu and question his competence as a security officer.

Amaechi said, “We have held Security Council meetings two or three times. But before Mbu came, we used to hold security meetings two or three times every month. We knew where our youth corps members were and we knew the level of security arrangement we put in place to protect them. We also sent the SSS to watch over them.

“We have equipment that monitors what happens there. The only way they will not kidnap youth corps members is to send Joseph Mbu back to where he came from and post us a commissioner of police that will serve the interest of this state.”

The governor claimed that the state had become unsafe and threatened to withdraw his support for the police if the IG failed to transfer CP Mbu.

He said “Port Harcourt is becoming unsafe and more NYSC members may be kidnapped, except they remove Joseph Mbu. It will worsen when we (the state government) stop funding the police, because we will soon stop funding them. Mbu is a politician, because he attends political meetings with those who brought him to our state and there is no way you can stop that. The only way you can stop that is to ask the politicians in Abuja to withdraw their commissioner of police.”

Not one to take things lying low, Mbu described Amaechi as a tyrant and a dictator who wanted him (Mbu) to be subservient. He told journalists in Port Harcourt: “Our governor is very tyrannical, he is a dictator. He wants everybody to say ‘yes sir’ to him and I said I will not say so. I am a professional.”

Analysts, however, believe that the spat between the two men has political undertones. Those in this school of thought argue that the CP’s antagonism towards the governor may not be unconnected to Amaechi’s political differences with the Presidency. They further posit that Amaechi’s  rumoured vice presidential ambition may serve as an impediment to President Goodluck Jonathan’s yet to be declared re-election bid.

A public affairs analyst, Mr. Tolu Clark, said, “The CP can work with the governor without being subservient to him; Amaechi has his own faults as a man, but the CP as a seasoned officer can discharge his responsibilities without getting involved with the political shenanigans in the state.”

Though the CP is regarded as a thoroughbred officer, his rigid opposition to Amaechi is suspected to have been influenced by the police hierarchy intent on pleasing some elements within the Presidency who have an axe to grind with the governor. Some believe Mbu is standing on thin ice as he is caught in the crossfire between the wishes of the Presidency (and police authorities’) and Amaechi’s desires.  A reading of the situation indicates that the governor desires a CP that would do his bidding as it pertains to the crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party in the state while Mbu is striving to give the impression that he is not partisan and would not be used by the governor, but at the same time making the right noises to please the people he reports to. A number of people feel that the policeman was being used by leading Abuja-based Rivers State politicians to humiliate the governor.

Despite the CP’s attempt to downplay the schism between him and the governor when he referred to Amaechi as his boss and brother, it is obvious that an amicable resolution of the issue may not be achieved through affected camaraderie or false modesty.

The IG who ordinarily should not be comfortable with the high level of altercation in Rivers State, in view of its security implications, has kept mute. When asked if he had received a petition against Mbu from Amaechi, Abubakar simply said he has not and declined further comments. His body language however seems to suggest that everything is well or going according to a script.

Commenting on the development, a retired Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, decried the media war between Amaechi and Mbu, saying it was not good for the security of the state. According to him, the CP was supposed to take orders from the governor but if the order was complicated, he should seek clearance from the Force headquarters. The former Lagos State CP noted that Mbu must have had the support of the Presidency for him to engage the governor. He  noted that the CP would have been removed from office in different circumstances.

Tsav said “The CP is not supposed to engage the governor in a war of words in the papers. The governor has a duty to work hand in hand with the CP and SSS for the security of the state and that is why people are clamouring for state police. The normal thing is that the CP should have been removed  and for this not to have happened means he has the support of the Presidency to do what he is doing.”

Mbu may be getting good ratings from his superiors and from others who might see the tango between him and the governor as a welcome development, but the CP needs to know that those hailing him today will not hesitate to crucify him tomorrow if he is no longer useful to them. He would be wise to be true to himself, to his job and the country he serves as a law officer. The sooner both men realise that they need to work together to protect the lives and property of residents of the state, the better for the nation.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail