Jonathan orders probe of Rivers crisis
•Pledges to end political tension in the country
•Uneasy calm in Rivers over House Leader’s arrest
In spite of the Presidency’s claim that the raging Rivers State political crisis poses no security threat to the nation, President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday demanded for a detailed brief on the security situation in the state.
The President made the demand at the State House, Abuja while responding to concerns raised by a visiting delegation of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) led by its President, Okey Wali.
Jonathan assured the delegation that he would take
all necessary action to ensure adherence to the rule of law and the maintenance of law and order in Rivers State.
Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jona-
than on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, had on Wednesday said that insinuations that recent political developments in Rivers suggested that the state was on fire were grossly unfounded.
He insisted that the developments do not pose any threat to the country’s democracy.
But Jonathan went further to promise on Thursday to do his best to stop the level of political rascality that is causing enormous tension in the country ahead of the 2015 Presidential poll.
He pointed out that the rising political tension in the country was unnecessary and as the nation’s President and leader of its ruling political party, he would do all that is humanly possible to curb political excesses.
“The political tension in the country is mainly built around the 2015 elections which should not be the case. It is quite disturbing. The year 2015 is still far off.
“I expect politicians to focus on the business of governance now. We must do what we were elected to do first. We will do our best to curb the overheating of the polity,” Jonathan said.
The President told his guests that his administration was implementing the right policies, programmes and projects to accelerate economic development and boost employment in the country, and called for a little more patience from Nigerians as the results of government’s efforts in areas such as power supply would become even more visible soon.
He further assured them that his administration would continue with positive reformation and strengthening of Nigeria’s judicial system, including the resolution of issues related to increased funding for the judiciary.
He reaffirmed his commitment to the progressive reformation of Nigeria’s electoral processes to guarantee that all votes cast in elections truly count and that elections in the country are accepted by all objective stakeholders as free, fair and credible.
Jonathan urged the NBA and other professional associations in the country to find ways of interacting with government on a regular basis, as they were not established to antagonise government but instead to contribute to national growth and development.
He accepted the NBA’s invitation to open the association’s Annual General Conference at Tinapa, Cross River State, next month, promising to personally honour the invitation if his official schedule permits.
In his address, Wali had conveyed to Jonathan NBA’s views on the state of the nation’s economy, national security, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, the anti-corruption crusade, elections and the electoral process as well as the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution.
Meanwhile, there is uneasy calm in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, over the recent political developments in the state.
The fear is borne out of the interrogation of Leader of the state House of Assembly, Chidi Lloyd, by the special unit of the police headquarters in Abuja.
Chidi, who had earlier been declared wanted by the police, voluntarily reported at the Force Headquarters with his lawyer and after a few hours he was asked to go but with strict monitoring by security agencies.
Those loyal to the state Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, fear that Lloyd may be intimidated or compelled to make statements under duress.
Lloyd was accused of attempted manslaughter for attacking his colleague, Michael Chinda, with the mace during a fracas in the House on July 8.
Chinda is presently receiving treatment in a London hospital.
Some of Amaechi’s men have called on the police authorities to go after the five opposition lawmakers who were also involved in the fracas.
“Police must do their work holistically so that Nigerians will no more see them as taking side in the crisis,” General Overseer of Abundant Live Evangel Mission (ALEM), Eugene Ogu, said.
Ogu, a former President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), said all parties in the Rivers crisis, including the five lawmakers that allegedly impeached the Speaker, Otelemaba Dan Amachree, must be interrogated on the role they played in the crisis.
On his part, Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Leyii Kwanee, condemned the summoning of Lloyd by the police while some of the legislators involved in the brigandage were left untouched in Port Harcourt.
Speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Thursday, the Deputy Speaker stated that what could have been appropriate was for the police to invite all those involved in the fracas for questioning.
Kwanee, a lawyer and the member representing Khana Constituency 2, condemned what he called selective approach whereby only the House Leader was singled out for questioning.
Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) also accused the Presidency on Thursday of being “clever by half” with its claim that the ongoing Rivers crisis was not a threat to Nigeria’s democracy.
It believes that the crisis is not just a threat to the nation’s democracy but also to the peaceful co-existence of its people.
In a statement in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, ACN said “the Rivers crisis looked ‘normal’ to the Presidency because it is the one behind it.”
‘’Let us call a spade a spade: what is happening in Rivers State is not normal. What is normal in five members of a 32-strong House seeking to remove the Speaker supported by the remaining members?
“What is normal in the Police Commissioner of a state labelling the Governor a dictator and supporting renegade lawmakers to stir trouble? What is normal in hired thugs stoning visiting Governors from another part of the country?
‘’Should it not be clear to the Presidency what would have happened if any of the four northern Governors had been mortally injured in the attack on them by the hired thugs in Port Harcourt?
“In any case, is it not common knowledge that most of Nigeria’s political crises have originated from a state or regional crisis?’’ the party asked rhetorically.