Rivers crisis: There was no attack on the northern governors’ convoy – Police

by Rachel Ogbu

L-R: Governors Rabi’u Kwankwaso (Kano State); Sule Lamido (Jigawa) Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), during the governors visit to Amaechi in Port Harcourt... on Tuesday.  (Photo: NAN)
L-R: Governors Rabi’u Kwankwaso (Kano State); Sule Lamido (Jigawa) Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), during the governors visit to Amaechi in Port Harcourt… on Tuesday.
(Photo: NAN)

Commissioner for Information and Communications, Ibim Semenitari has confirmed that a Government House bus was damaged when youths  on Tuesday, reportedly threw stones and other objects at the convoy of the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.

Semenitari described the incident (where a bus carrying some commissioners in the state was said to have had its windscreen smashed by the protesters) as a ploy by anti-democratic forces to cause chaos in the state and added that the occurrence had the capacity of disrupting the nation’s democracy.

According to reports the convoy also included vehicles that were conveying four northern governors – Sule Lamido (Jigawa);  Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Babangida Aliyu (Niger);  and Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) –  who were  on a solidarity visit to Amaechi.

However, the Secretary-General of the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI) , Samuel Nwanosike, described the protest as peaceful and successful stating that the people of the state were just not comfortable seeing northern governors come to the state.

“There was a peaceful protest at the airport today. Rivers people are not happy with the visit of the northern governors to our state. They should stay in their states because Rivers people can solve their political problems by themselves,” Nwanosike said.

“We were about 7,000 protesting. We don’t want them (northern governors) to import Boko Haram to Rivers State.”

[READ: Rivers crisis: “Northern governors were not held hostage in Port Harcourt” – State gov’t ]

The Punch reports:

But the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Angela Agabe, told The PUNCH that “there was no time the governors’ convoy was attacked.

“Nothing like that (attack) happened,” she said, adding that adequate security was provided at the airport to forestall any unpleasant development.

The youths, who are mostly members of the Grassroots Development Initiative, had expressed dissatisfaction over the visit of the  governors,  maintaining that they  had  no business being in the state.

Though some pro-Amaechi youths, who are members of Ikwerre Youth Movement, were also on the ground to forestall any untoward development at the airport, their presence did not stop the anti-Amaechi protesters.

The anti-Amaechi protesters, who got wind of the planned visit of the northern governors, had stormed the Port Harcourt Airport at about 7am and waited until about 11.40am when the governors and their host arrived.   Amaechi came in from Abuja.

Aliyu, who is also the chairman of the Northern States Governors’  Forum, arrived at about an hour later to join others who had been waiting for him.

Trouble, however, began when the governors were about leaving the VIP lounge for a journey to the Government House in Port Harcourt. The anti-Amaechi  protesters  moved en masse to block the governors from moving further  but were dispersed by an  Armoured Personnel Carrier, which was part of Amaechi’s convoy.

At that point, the  governors were able to enter a vehicle that immediately left the vicinity but  some vehicles in the convoy were said to have been hit by stones and other objects  thrown by the protesters.

One of Amaechi’s drivers, according to a source, was said to have received two punches on his face.

The youths’ position on the visit was backed by the  Peoples Democratic Party in  the state, which said it was “meant to aggravate the political crisis in the state.”

The Media Adviser to the state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Jerry Needam, said in a statement  that it was wrong for the   governors to abandon their states in order to pay Amaechi a solidarity visit.

He said,  “It is the likes of these visitors that   are encouraging Amaechi not to have regard for the Rivers people, elders and constituted authorities in the state.”

On the inauguration of an eight-member Judicial Commission   to look into the crisis in the  House of Assembly, Needam described Amaechi as a principal actor, who should not be a  judge in his own case.

He said, “Amaechi can’t be a judge in his own case. Amaechi is a principal suspect in the matter. Above all, the matter is before the Senate. The Senate will give its report on Wednesday (today).

“His action is pre-empting the decision of the Senate Committee on States and Local governments. It is a shame that Amaechi will go to  this length in his desperate quest for power.”



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