DEADLY THREATS TO DEMOCRACY, RULE OF LAW AND CIVILITY IN RIVERS STATE

The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) is hereby alerting the good people of Nigeria and indeed the international community of the spate of deadly threats to the lives of the advocates and defenders of human rights and democracy in Rivers State and by extension, the Niger Delta region and Nigeria. This disturbing development started since the Niger Delta Civil Society Coalition (NDCSC) put out a notice of its intention to hold a One-Day Rally on “Defending Democracy against Impunity and Political Violence” in the state.
The event was billed as a peaceful gathering of civil society coalitions (CACOL included) to address and raise their voices in defense of democracy and constitutionality, following the disturbing political impasse that has engulfed the state of recent. These unwarranted, yet unprovoked threats have persistently been channeled through phone calls, direct personal attacks and publications through the media, on both the chairman of the coalition, Anyakwee Nsirimovu and prominent human rights defenders across the country, invited to address what is, by every intent and purpose, a legitimate peaceful setting. The reported threats have been fronted by faceless so-called militant groups, letter-headed based sectional organizations and of course, representatives of a faction of the Peoples Democratic Party chapter in the state. They have been using all manners of threats and blackmail strategies to stop the rally from holding.
It is equally pertinent to let members of the public be aware that the organizers of the proposed rally which was scheduled to hold today, the 30th July, 2013, at the Sharks Stadium in the city of Port Harcourt, the NDCSC, in demonstrating its genuine and peaceful intent, had earlier forwarded a letter to the Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu, notifying him of the event but to our dismay, the letter was rejected as the command flagrantly refused to collect, talk less of acknowledging it, obviously as ordered ‘from above’,  Predictably, by this morning, the Rivers State Police Command has barricaded every entry point to the venue and other strategic spots in Port Harcourt by stern-faced armed policemen, thus forcing the event to be called off; an action which apparently betrayed the premeditated plan by the police and its co-abusers of democratic values, using the coercive instrument of the state, to prevent the event from holding, thus denying  the people of Rivers State and indeed Nigeria of their fundamental and constitutional rights to express, associate and assemble.
It has become clear too, that the state Commissioner of Police is in Rivers State, not essentially to administer the machinery of protecting lives and property in the state, rather he is there to do the master’s bidding at all costs, regardless of whose ox is gored. The repeated call by the Governor and the chief security officer of the state, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, for the redeployment of Mr. Mbu, cannot, after all, be seen as a mere alarmist gesture. It is against this background that we now call on the good people of Nigeria to rise up and condemn what is gradually becoming an establishment of anarchy and disorderliness in Rivers State and to also call with one voice, the immediate removal
(or redeployment) of Mr. Mbu from the state, to prevent him from inflicting further damage to governance and security there.  We can no longer afford to continue to watch Mbu and his likes destroy, overnight, the long-existing foundation of unity and peaceful coexistence by the founding fathers of Rivers state.
In the same vein, we call on the presidency and other relevant authorities to heed Governor Amaechi’s persistent call and effect Mbu’s deployment without further delay as it has since become clear that there exists clearly a communication breakdown between these two. Two captains cannot possibly man a ship. They should remember that the man who takes the primary responsibility for the security of lives and property in the state is the governor and should therefore not continue to make the job difficult him through this sinister imposition.
Finally, CACOL hereby joins its voice to that of the NDCSC in categorically making our stand clear on the collective resolve not to succumb to this primitive and senseless intimidation, which has now become the stock-in-trade of these tyrannical demagogues who are bent on derailing the democratic train, stagnate due process with the aim of further institutionalizing impunity and tyranny, thereby subverting the globally acceptable principles of democracy and human freedom in Nigeria and in Rivers State in particular, but would go ahead to keep speaking out on behalf of the good people of Nigeria and other lovers of democracy worldwide. We entreat that this alert be taken seriously because of the state of insecurity and illicit possession of instruments of violence and terrorism by these enemies of peace and decency.
Debo Adeniran
Executive Chairman, CACOL
Tuesday, 30 July, 2013

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