The Rivers State police on Friday 13th September, 2013 blocked the road leading to the Government House and disallowed Governor Rotimi Amaechi and his convoy from passing. The policemen still refused to change their mind even after the Governor himself came out to appeal to them. In the Governor’s convoy were ex-speakers of Nigeria’s state assemblies who were returning to government house with the Governor after visiting completed projects in the state.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) considers this ugly development as a national embarrassment. What happened on Friday should not be seen as a Rivers State affair alone. This one has caused serious inconvenience to ex-speakers of the country’s state assemblies. Apart from this, it should be realised that whatever happens in any state is likely to be replicated in other states. Ripple effects are also likely to be felt. Nigerians must remember that the First Republic collapsed mainly because of the thuggery, hooliganism and lawlessness in the Wild Wild West.
MURIC is greatly disturbed by the attitude of the police in Rivers State. It was the same police formation which stood akimbo as mayhem reigned in the House of Assembly. The same police formation withdrew the governor’s security outfit a few days ago. We like to differ, however, from those who lay the blame on the doorsteps of the Inspector General of Police. We assert clearly,
unambiguously and unequivocally that the buck stops on President Jonathan’s table. Afterall there have been wranglings between the president and Governor Amaechi. The president took the inglorious decision to recognize Governor Jang who scored 16 at the governors’s forum election against Governor Amaechi who scored 19. There is also the festering squabble involving Nigeria’s First Lady and Amaechi.
These indeed are odious signs in a nascent democracy. We call on the presidency to save its image now before it is too late. Aso Rock is killing a fly with a sledge hammer. The way and manner the presidency wages its war with Governor Amaechi leaves no one in doubt about its readiness to throw democratic principles to the wind. Absolute power is being brandished left, right and center with reckless abandon. Nigerians must not forget that absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the present circumstances, we cannot but hold the presidency responsible if this democratic setting is derailed.
MURIC calls upon civil society to rise immediately against Aso Rock’s tyranny. We charge the heroes of our nascent democracy and the champions of our hardwon liberty to caution President Jonathan. After confronting military dictators in the 80s and 90s, a civilian totalitarian cannot cow us into silence. We charge activists across the country to remember the golden words of Martin Niemoller who lamented, “First they came for the communists and I didnt speak up, because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the Jews and I didnt speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me.”
It is time for non-violent, civilized and organized resistance to Jonathan’s totalitarian propensities. Enough is enough. If they can do this much to a whole Governor, then the ordinary Nigerian cannot get justice in this country. We affirm that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.
Finally, MURIC cautions Aso Rock to stop breathing down the necks of the Rivers State police and that of the Inspector General of Police. The police must be allowed to perform their jobs in a professional manner without let or hinderance. The Rivers State imbroglio has also strengthened the case of those in the pro-state police camp. Too much power is concentrated in the center. States must be allowed to own their own police in the next dispensation.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)