Governor Rotimi Amaechi
By Ernest Chinwo
The lingering crisis in the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party took a new twist Friday as policemen sealed the Obio/Akpor Local Government Council and ordered the Chairman of the caretaker Committee, Chikodi Dike and his team out of the secretariat.
But Dike has vowed that he would not vacate his office unless by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Also, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Otelemaba Amachree described the “assault” on the LG as “a plot to destabilize Rivers State so that a state of emergency can be declared”.
The policemen, including men of the anti-terrorists squad, led by the Divisional Police Officer of Rumuodomaya Police Station stormed the council headquarters at about 2.00pm and ensured that no one entered the premises.
Staff and workers of the council were barred from entering the secretariat, while those who were inside were searched to ensure that no council property or document were in their possession.
The Rivers State House of Assembly had suspended the elected Chairman of Obio/Akpo Local Government Area, Mr. Timothy Nsirim, the Vice Chairman, Solomon Eke and all 17 councillors over allegations of reckless spending of public funds and security breach.
A day later, Governor Chibuike Amaechi swore in Dike and six others as members of the caretaker committee.
When THISDAY visited the council yesterday afternoon, there were heavily armed policemen at the secretariat and no one, including journalists was allowed into the premises. A police patrol van belonging to the Rumuodomaya Police Area Division was stationed at the entrance of the secretariat, while the gate of the council was closed.
Chairman of the caretaker committee, Dike, had to walk to the gate to talk to journalists who had besieged the secretariat to find out what was happening.
Addressing the journalists, Dike said, “At about 2pm today, the DPO in charge of Rumuodomaya Police state, one Mr. Adeyemo, came to my office trying to order me out of my offic. I said why? He said he had an order from the Commissioner of Police for Rivers State, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu, ordering me out of my office.
“I asked for the order and he said he had no written order. Of course I knew he has no such constitutional powers. I told him I was not leaving except by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction.”
Describing the action of the police as a coup, Dike said he would not to vacate his office or abdicate his official responsibilities except by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
“It is so surprising that at this stage of our democracy there could still be a coup by the Nigerian Police. We are from Obio/Akpor Local Government and no individual can be bigger than the council. So, we are here constitutionally and only a constitutional means can order us out. We cannot be intimidated. Nobody can harass us. We refused to go out from the council premises.”
He appealed to the people of the area to remain calm over the incident.
“I use this opportunity to appeal to the good people of Obio/Akpor to remain calm, peaceful and go about their normal businesses without any fear of molestation. We are law-abiding citizens and we should remain law-abiding,” he said.
He said nobody was arrested in the incident but said he believed the police would not be there by Monday.
When THISDAY tried to reach the Commissioner of Police for his comments, his telephone lines were switched off.
But the spokesman of the State Police Command, Ben Ugwuegbulam, said the policemen were drafted to the council to forestall an attack on the secretariat by some persons. He denied that the police asked the chairman of the CTC to leave.
Dike and his aides left the secretariat at about 6.00pm while the armed policemen sealed the premises and stood guard.