by ‘Jola Sotubo
Barely 24 hours after news of his impending removal from office was announced, the Police Commissioner of Rivers, Joseph Mbu, has exercised his power.
Mr. Mbu has banned all political rallies within the state in a bid to reduce the increasing political tension in Rivers.
The ban took effect from yesterday when the announcement was made and according to Mbu it extends to all forms of political rallies no matter under what guise they may appear.
Nigerian Eye reports:
The State Police Command had before the outright ban on political rallies, directed that those holding rallies in the state should apply for police permission.
He also prohibited activities involving the Grassroots Development Initiative, Save Rivers Movement, and the Rivers Leadership Advancement Foundation.
“The Rivers State Police Command wishes to inform members of the public that as a result of increasing political tension in the state, the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Police Command, has banned all political rallies in the State under whatever coloration or name.
“Accordingly, all public activities involving rallies of Grassroots Development Initiative, Save Rivers Movement , Rivers Leadership Advancement Foundation and whatever other names, are hereby banned,” a statement signed by the Command’s spokesman, Mr. Ahmad Mohammad read.
Mbu warned that the State Police Command would not provide security for any group that would henceforth organise rallies.
The state police commissioner, however, stated that party membership registration would only be allowed based on the provisions of the Electoral Act and regulations of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
According to the statement, “Rivers State Police Command will not; I repeat; will not provide security for any group in whatever guise.
“Party membership drive is allowed strictly as stipulated in Electoral Act 2010 as amended and INEC regulations, please.”
Reacting, the President of the Save Rivers Movement, Mr. Charles Ahorlu, said the police had no right to ban political rallies in the state.
Ahorlu, who spoke in a telephone interview, explained that the State Police Command was arrogating to itself the power the Nigerian Constitution did not give to it.
He said, “We will not take the ban on rallies lightly. They even stated that they will not provide security for any group that organizes rallies. We will not take this ban on rallies lightly.
“Where were the police when the Grassroots Development Initiative was traversing all nooks and crannies of the state, holding political rallies in all the local government area of the state?”
Also, the GDI National Spokesman, Mr. Godwill Omunakwe, said his group was ready to comply with the ban on political rallies by the police.
Omunakwe recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had maintained that he (Jonathan) did not want any loss of life over for any political reason.
“The truth is that police are there to protect us. Before now, we have been applying for police permit before we organise our rallies. But we are going to comply fully with police ban on rallies.
“You are aware that the President has said that he did not want any life to be lost for his sake or for any political reason,” Omunakwe stressed.
Reacting, the State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Felix Obuah, described the ban on political rallies as a gang-up between the police and the State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.
Obuah lamented that the ban on political rallies was targeted at stopping the PDP from taking its campaign to various local government areas.
“I just believe it (ban on rallies by the police) is against the PDP. The PDP has not started rally and anytime from now, we are planning to embark on our rallies from one local government are to the other.
“The ban on political rallies is a gang-up between the police and Amaechi. Governor Amaechi knows that he cannot reach out to the people,” he said.