OPINION: Rivers Police: A Force Of Occupation ? – By Ibrahim Modibbo
“The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going” …Ralph Waldo Emerson
Recent events that happened in sequence in Port Harcourt, Rivers state is dangerously setting up a template for gross entrenchment of impunity and monumental recipe for anarchy. Using the Nigeria police, a force that is serviced and maintained by our collective patrimony as attack dogs, with notoriety as devil’s advocate or better still a force of occupation is not only illegal and unconstitutional, but morally reprehensible , vocationally oppressive and intellectually dishonest in all it’s ramifications.
For ten days, the first lady, Dame patience Jonathan constituted herself as ‘Government’ in Port Harcourt. She personified the symbol of authority with impunity and took over the city, using the police as a willing tool to ground all social, political and economic activities in the Garden city.
The police under Mbu Joseph Mbu came in handy to oppress the teeming populace and terrorize the government by barricading all important roads within the metropolis. Dark goggled and stern looking policemen took over, hence crippling bureaucracy and art of governance. The road that even leads to the Government House was blocked.
Rising slightly above the limitations of her intellect, Mrs Jonathan, in what observers see as self serving and myopic worldview, decided to jump into the political space, using misappropriated and misguided powers to over run a democratically elected government in Rivers state. Never in the history of modern democracy have we seen such a brazen and highly reckless display of bankruptcy of ideas and native naivety by powers that neither secured its mandate from the people nor it’s entrenchment in our written laws.
Even in times of disaster, no first Lady had ever left the comfort of her husband’s exotic bed for such a long period to form a parallel government in a state considered to be vassal, except Dame Patience Jonathan. I think it is a needless and highly avoidable tragedy that must be condemned by all democrats of Conscience. The politics of 2015 must be a contest of ideas and not of personalities and what happened in Garden city last week fell flat below the poverty line and International best practices, as it has the capacity to gradually and systematically disintegrate the collective will and core values of modern democracy.
Though with a mandate to positively respond to emerging and developing security threats in Rivers state, the police under Commissioner Mbu is suffering from gross operational deficiencies, arising from blatant incompetence, high level of sycophancy and acute shortage of vision and mission to accomplish its set objectives in the state. Instead of tacking the problem security through strategic thinking and motivational approach to modern policing by way of vibrant capacity building, viable manpower development and people oriented institutional strengthening, the man is busy submitting himself as an arm of Aso Rock in a battle considered by many to have been lost.
Having led the jackboot “kill and go” mobile police that was serially accused of institutional corruption and lawlessness, the police commissioner did not perform below expectations of many who knew his antecedence. The man is known for lawlessness that entrenches impunity and apparent disregard to constituted authority. Sadly, Mr Mbu is currently playing to the gallery by creating theatrical effects that tragically unfolds In to comedy of errors and appalling missteps.
Any politician of conscience, and by extension Mr President, would be embarrassed by the exploits of Mbu who embarks on dramatic struggle for social and political recognition. His problems in Rivers state is as profound as it is injurious to the tenets of democracy, bearing in mind that the man uses professional tyranny to subvert the constitution and pervade decency in all his dealings with Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi.
The River state police in the words of Karl Maier is a house that’s fallen. Mbu has become an interested party and extremely partisan. He is dangerous to our nascent democracy and a bad influence to a police force that is expected to be people oriented. If it is not a well designed script acted by Mbu to destabilize democracy and subvert the will of the people, then the Mike Okiro led police service commission should show the man the exit door.
Mbu, whom my sources describe as an aspiring Inspector-General of police desperately using contacts to appeal to Jonathan to take over from the present IG ahead of 2015 general elections, is crying more than the bereaved. His reckless and unjustifiable anger against Governor Amaechi stems from the fact that the newly elected National Chairman of Nigeria Governors forum whose powers is inspired by the popular mandate of his colleagues does not recognize him(Mbu) as a recurring decimal in the political equation of Rivers state.
The police Commissioner is angry to a point of frustration that Gov Amaechi does not consult him in governing the state and the Governor is seen as most vocal against some federal government policies that defied logic. These include the mis(management) of the Excess crude account, sovereign wealth fund, offshore/onshore dichotomy, and other fiscal matters that resulted in litigation between the states and federal government.
To confront the government and challenge a constituted authority, Mbu deployed the police to occupy the heart and soul of democracy, the state Assembly complex after a kangaroo PDP Exco that failed to win election but got itself imposed by an Abuja High court decided to suspend 27 lawmakers of the state Assembly. The police was said to have led protesters to both the state Secretariat and Obio/Akpor local government secretariat where some political thugs and social miscreants overwhelmed authorities and dispensed reign of terror. It took the special intervention of God through the House of Representatives to direct the Inspector- General of police, Mohammed Abubakar to order the withdrawal of the police.
Having lost sight of the bigger picture of what democracy and human right entails, it also took a special order from a PortHarcourt High court to restrain the commissioner of Police from arresting the Chief of staff to the Governor Mr Tony Okocha and the speaker of the state Assembly Rt Hon Otelemaba Dan Amachree for reasons best known to an apprentice dictator.
As the activities of Mbu gradually moves from the sublime to the ridiculous, where mediocrity and iniquity rules, the postulations as to whether he would remain part of the equation to save the current situation obviously begs the question.
Just like bull in a China shop, the policeman, whose assumption of duty as commissioner in River state would be remembered for inflicting collateral damage to the psyche of officers and men due to acute display of nepotism, selective amnesia and religious intolerance would have served better if transferred to take charge of police cooperatives. In fact he was said to have redeployed and made redundant all officers from Gov. Amaechi’s ethnic nationality and those who knew the Governor even by association. To show the level of religious intolerance, Mbu was said to have recently ordered for the demolition of a make shift Mosque erected by Muslim officers for their daily prayers at the state Headquarters of the command.
And just last week, when Governor Amaechi told a visiting social crusader and intellectual power house from the Niger Delta professor Tam David West that security in the state is drifting due largely to upsurge in armed robbery, kidnappings and general security of the state, the response on this issue from the police is better imagined than experienced. Leaving the substance to chase shadows, Mbu used crude and unconventional adjectives to attack the person of the Governor. He was generously quoted by the Media to have described Gov. Amaechi as ‘a tyrant and a dictator who want me to answer him yes sir’
I think time has come when President Jonathan should start chaining some of his attack dogs, if the essence of democracy and good governance should be the focal point of an administration that is largely considered to be weak, inept, clueless, spineless, naive and overwhelmingly corrupt.
Modibbo, is an Abuja based journalist. His email is ()