Men of the Nigerian Police on Sunday morning fired rubber bullets and teargas at Senator Magnus Abe, the Senator representing Rivers South East zone and Chief Tony Okocha, the Chief of Staff to Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
The shooting incident occurred at Sunday’s political rally organized by the Save Rivers Movement at the College of Arts and Science, Rumuola, Port Harcourt. The flying bullets allegedly killed five children.
Latest reports reaching the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) indicate that Senator Abe has been flown abroad for treatment. He was reportedly shot twice in the chest.
MURIC considers this invasion and subsequent shooting of unarmed civilians by the police as a cowardly act and the height of bestiality. We strongly condemn the shooting. It is another manifestation of police tyranny. The police is expected to be neutral arbiters.
It is alarming to find them engaging in unprovoked attack on one party while providing cover for another. This ugly incident is a danger signpost for 2015 general elections. It lends credence to the fear of cynics who doubt the ability of the Jonathan administration to organize a free, fair and peaceful election.
The man in the street is not safe if this can happen to high profile citizens like a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the chief of staff of a state governor. It is therefore unacceptable. The political situation in Rivers State has degenerated to the Hobbesian state as Gestapo style becomes the choice of the powers at the center.
The National Assembly (NASS) must act on this. A serving senator and chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) has been felled by a trigger-happy policeman. This is a challenge for the NASS and this is the time the latter must bare its fangs. NASS must prove to Nigerians that it is not a toothless bulldog.
To start with, NASS must summon the Inspector General of Police and demand, among other things, the immediate suspension of CP Mbu (the Rivers State Commissioner of Police), immediate identification, arrest and trial of the trigger-happy cop or cops and a thorough investigation into the shooting affair.
MURIC contends that this shooting has dragged democracy in the mud. We charge civil society to rise in defence of freedom, justice and the rule of law. Whereas this illegal invasion is designed to cow the opposition, we urge the latter to engage high gear in its campaign to emancipate Nigerians from the clutches of desperate tyrants.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)