â€¢ Allegation infantile, says APC
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Government has said it has uncovered a plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some officers of the Nigeria Police Force to instigate the students of tertiary institutions in the state to embark on protest against non-payment of bursary.
The government said the plan was for the police to shoot some of the protesting students to give the Governor Nyesom Wikeâ€™s administration a bad name and label the state as unsafe.
But the state chapter of the APC has described the allegation as infantile propaganda and blackmail.
The state governmentâ€™s allegation was contained in a statement issued yesterday in Port Harcourt by the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Emma Okah.
Â According to the statement, the plot is part of the orchestrated plan by the opposition and some police officers to continue to create crisis in the state, create fear in the mind of people, discourage inflow of investments and give the impression that the governor is not competent.
Â The statement further warned students to stay away from any planned protest as the state government would not be held responsible if any harm befalls them while in the course of any such enterprise.
â€œWhile we recognise the right of any citizen to assemble and carry out peaceful protests within the law, the present planned protest by the students is politically motivated and laced with huge danger as nobody knows who may be killed in the processâ€ he said, noting that the protest is premature as there were several unexplored avenues for studentsâ€™ grievances to be addressed and resolved.
The commissioner further warned that students who might defy the caution would be doing so at their own risk as the state government would have no hand in inviting police to quell the protesting students or in killing any of them.
In its reaction, the APC said the allegation is â€œa lame attempt to blackmail Rivers students who have been owed bursary payments since Governor Nyesom Wike came into office.â€
A statement issued by the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Chris Finebone, said: â€œInstead of doing the right thing to avert students embarking on protest over their endless neglect by the Wike government, Mr. Okah appears to have resorted to base tactics to blackmail the students, police and the APC.
â€œThe news for the commissioner is that his attempt is dead on arrival. Governor Wike must abandon his hatred and disdain for students and education and do the right thing. No amount of spin by his Information and Communications Commissioner will fool the students and Rivers people.â€