Police IG orders withdrawal of police from Rivers Local Govt. secretariats

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Solomon Arase, on Saturday evening, ordered the withdrawal of police from entrances into secretariats of the 23 local government areas in Rivers State.

Men and officers of the state police command, acting upon the order of the IGP, had, on Friday, barricaded the main gates of the various local government secretariats across the state.

The action followed the nullification of the council poll conducted on May 23, 2015 by the Rivers State Independent Electoral Commission (RISIEC), by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, on Thursday.

In his ruling, Justice Lambo Akanbi of the Federal High Court had declared that RISIEC flagrantly disobeyed the law by conducting the election and consequent upon the judgment, Governor Nyesom Wike sworn in 22 chairmen of caretaker committees to the affected 22 local government areas.

The governor also directed the caretaker chairmen to resume in their various offices last week Friday, only to see heavy presence of the police, barring movements into the secretariats.

Governor Wike, while alerting the people of the state to the action of the police, expressed worries that the law enforcement agency could act contrary to the decision of a court which nullified the local council poll.

However, in a news report monitored on a Port Harcourt-based radio station, on Sunday, the IGP said he directed his officers to take over the council secretariats in the state, oblivious of the court ruling.

Speaking on the latest development, the governor said he had a telephone conversation with the police boss who, he said, admitted that he (Arase) was not aware of the true picture of things concerning the court ruling.

The governor said his latest instruction to the caretaker chairmen was based on his discussion with Arase who, he said, had instructed his men to withdraw from the various local government secretariats in the state.

He said he made it known to the police boss that he (Wike) did not dissolve the elected local council chairmen, but that their election was nullified through a court pronouncement.
"I also made it known that, even if I was the one that dissolved the local councils, why is the case of Rivers State being treated in isolation, after all, some other states dissolved local councils and the police did not take over the council secretariats," he said.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied the allegation that it was the mastermind of the takeover of the local council secretariats by the police.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had alleged that APC was behind the incident and called for the arrest of its state publicity secretary, Mr Chris Fynebone, who was reported to have instructed APC members to defy the new local council caretaker chairmen.

However, Rivers APC chairman, Dr Davies Ikanya, in a statement issued on Sunday, said the party had no hand in the police taking over the state local government secretariats.
“The accusation is watery, baseless and without foundation. APC, as a party, has nothing to do with the police taking over the local government secretariats in Rivers State.

"We are not a lawless party like PDP that used the police and other security organs to make the state virtually ungovernable during their time in power at the centre,” he said.

Credit: Nigerian Tribune