President Bola Tinubu and the Peoples Democratic Party governors on Tuesday intervened to stop the impeachment moves against Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara.
The President conferred with the embattled governor and his predecessor, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, disclosed this shortly after the Nigeria Police Council met for the first time under the Tinubu administration.
Both Wike and Fubara had attended the meeting which was held at the State House.
However, photographs and videos capturing the moment were muffled by security operatives who threatened any media house that published them with eviction from the Presidential Villa.
Some cameramen confided in The PUNCH that while others were asked not to take photographs and videos of the two men, those who had done so before the directive were asked not to publish them.
This happened as the police arrested about 120 youths in Port Harcourt for protesting the moves to impeach the governor.
Sources said the youth had attempted to invade the official residence of the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Martin Amaewhule, in Port Harcourt, but they were repelled by the police, who dispersed them with gunshots.
The youth were demanding Amaewhule’s eviction, claiming that he was no longer the House Speaker.
The protesters had attempted to pull down the gates to the speaker’s residence while demanding his eviction from the building but the police quickly responded to the situation and arrested some of them.
It was gathered that a stray bullet hit one of the youth who bled profusely and was rushed to the hospital for treatment.
But a member of the Ijaw Youths Council, who simply gave his name as Thankgod, condemned the arrest, saying, “We did not touch his (Amaewhule’s) gate. We were just at a peaceful protest over what took place at the state House of Assembly.
“You know that some members (lawmakers) said they had signed a notice of impeachment on the governor, and we said it is illegal. It was a peaceful protest. You can see we are not armed.”
Online videos showed the youth sitting on the ground at the premises of the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Bureau in Port Harcourt.
It was gathered that among those arrested was the state Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Chijioke Ihunwo.
Ihunwo, before his later arrest said the youth would continue the occupation until they were sure that Fubara was secured.
He stated, “I want to condemn what happened in the state on Monday that a few persons want to cause a crisis in our state by wanting to impeach the governor of the state, Fubara.’’
.When contacted, the spokesperson for the State Police Command, Grace Irnge-Koko said she would find out and get back to our correspondent.
But she had yet to do as of the time of filing this report on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, a senior police source confirmed the incident, saying, “Those arrested are about 200. One of them is the Chairman of NYCN, Chijioke Ihunwo.
“One was seriously injured. The ones arrested are in custody,” he stated.
However, an official police source said no fewer than 120 protesters were arrested by the police.
Reacting to the arrest, the Spokesman for the Ijaw Youths Council, Worldwide, Bedford Benjamin, confirmed the development but said the youth had no intention of attacking Amaewhule’s residence.
He said the aggrieved youth only went there on a peaceful protest and condemned the decision of security agents to fire at them.
Benjamin said there was an unconfined report that someone was killed by the bullets adding that many of the protesters sustained injuries.
He said one of the youth and Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Rivers State chapter, Ihunwo and many others were arrested and thrown into a cell.
Bedford said: “We condemn in strong terms the sporadic shooting at peaceful protesters at the factional speaker’s residential area in Rivers state. One person is feared dead from the shooting many others sustained gun wounds and other degrees of injuries.
“We demand the unconditional release of the chairman of Rivers State Youth Council and the numerous Ijaw youths who are being arrested and detained unlawfully.
“Peaceful protests are backed by law, and anybody who is bent on usurping the will of the people will be resisted by the people.”
Continuing, he said, “We urge those saddled with the responsibility of maintaining peace and stability in the state not to play politics in the discharge of their duty as that can lead to further dangerous outcomes.
“The IYC calls on the Federal Government to step in immediately before the outcome disrupt the economy of the state and by extension the nation. We cannot afford this level of civil criminality in a democratic system”.
Earlier on Tuesday, the youth occupied the entrance leading to the Government House along Azikiwe Road, Port Harcourt as they continued their Monday protest against the planned impeachment of the governor by some lawmakers.
The protesters vowed to resist any attempt to oust Governor Fubara from office through the back door
The youth numbering over 1,000 besieged the Government House gate with music bands dancing and singing in solidarity in support of the governor.
The state Chairman of the NYCN, Ihunwo, who was one of the leaders before his later arrest said the youth would continue the occupation until they are sure that Fubara is secured.
He stated, “I want to condemn what happened in the state on Monday that a few persons, who want to cause a crisis in our state by wanting to impeach the governor of the state, Fubara.
“It is uncalled for. This is just the beginning and we are going to occupy the streets. We are saying no to godfatherism. The youths will occupy the streets because we have a governor that has a passion for Rivers youths.”
The incident occurred 24 hours after 26 members moved to remove Fubara over the alleged breach.
Confirming Tinubu’s intervention on Tuesday after the Villa meeting, the Bauchi State governor said, “The President is on a call; He is speaking to both parties to douse the tension.”
The former FCT Minister further explained, “We had a closed session where very serious national issues that have security implications were discussed. That is the problem emerging in Rivers.
“The President, in his usual leadership position, intervened, and then it will appear there will be peace in that respect. He has shown that he’s a President for everybody. A President of the PDP and a president of the APC by intervening today and bringing succour and solace to the people of Rivers and Nigeria.
“He is making sure he did not use his big hammer and biro to emasculate us as the opposition. We found this to be very good. And going forward, we pledge that we are going to work with him to bring good governance to the people of Nigeria.”
Also, governors elected on the PDP have intervened in the crisis.
The Chairman PDP Governors’ Forum, Mohammed in a communiqué read after a meeting of the group at the Oyo State Lodge in Abuja, commended the President for his intervention in the Rivers State political crisis.
He said, “The PDP governors were alarmed at the recent developments in Rivers State and welcome the intervention of Mr. President to bring the crises to an end. The meeting urged all parties to the Rivers State crises to sheath their sword and resort to peaceful means of resolution
“The forum further offers its platform for a quick and just containment of the issues involved.”
After reading the prepared speech, Mohammed explained that the crisis between Wike and Fubara had been resolved.
He said: “As you can see, our brother governor is here; he has resolved the matter with his mentor.”
Meanwhile, the kinsmen of the Rivers governor from the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality have called on the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to immediately redeploy the state Commissioner of Police, Emeke Nwonyi, over the crisis that rocked the state House of Assembly and the attack the governor suffered on Monday.
The kinsmen under the aegis of ‘Ida Obolo Sim Vanguard’ a Pro-Peoples Democratic Party Support group, while condemning the activities of the Nigeria Police Force, said it was most embarrassing that CP Nwonyi-led state command supervised the ill-treatment meted out on the governor without recourse to professionalism.
Former Chairman of the Andoni Local Government Area of the state, Gogo-Ogute Isaiah, made the call at a news briefing in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, saying the attitude of the CP portrayed him as incompetent.
Isaiah expressed dismay that even when the State House of Assembly was located very close to the State Police Headquarters where the CP seats, he could not prevent the bombing and destruction of the House and the attack on Fubara.
He stated, “I condemn the activities of the Nigerian Police Force, Rivers State Command over the incident that took place two days ago. Before the Police Headquarters where the Rivers State House of Assembly is situated, the State House of Assembly was burnt and destroyed and security checkpoints that lead in and out of the State Assembly.
“We are suspecting the police as being responsible for fomenting this problem in the state. The Police could not investigate and prove to us that they were competent in handling the security affairs of this state hence this ugly incident happened before them.
“All we noticed is the Commissioner of Police embarrassing our Governor, and his men teargassing and spraying water on our governor. That is the worst embarrassment and we did not expect that from the police.
“I am calling on the Inspector General of Police to immediately redeploy the Rivers State Commissioner of Police from the state because he is incompetent. He cannot handle the security affairs of this state. So he should be redeployed.”
Similarly, the Leader of the Ida Obolo Sim Vanguard, Kingston Sylvanus condemned the action of one of its kinsmen and serving lawmaker in the state Assembly, Hon. Ofiks Kagbank, whom he said was part of the 24 lawmakers who signed an impeachment process on the Governor.
Sylvanus, who was also a former LGA Chairman of Andoni, said the Vanguard declared their support for Fubara, saying “Nothing and nobody can stop an idea or a person whose time has come’.
He stated, “Within your few days in office, you embarked on the re-award and construction of the Andoni Unity Road, a road which has been abandoned for the past 24 years.
“It is against this backdrop that we express our shock and utter dismay at the shameful, selfish, and despicable action of Hon. Ofiks Kagbang, the member representing Andoni at the Rivers State House of Assembly.
Wike on Tuesday, received leaders of ethnic nationalities from the Niger Delta region, in his office in Abuja.
The minister, while addressing the leaders, dismissed reports of calls for his dismissal by the President, but remained silent on allegations of his involvement in impeachment moves against his successor, Fubara.
The minister noted his resolve to remain focused, adding that what was important was supporting President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda.
He added that not everyone would be happy with his historical appointment while calling for the support of the Leaders for the President.
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.