The Rivers State Government has called for disciplinary action against erring security officers found culpable in the violence and killings that rocked the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly and March 9 gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections in the state.
This formed part of the submissions made by the state government during the two-day public sitting of the Joint House of Representatives Committee on the Army, Police, Justice and Human Rights in Port Harcourt, on the violence and killings that engulfed the state during the just-concluded elections.
The committee was set up following a motion by Hon Kingsley Chinda, representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency on the floor of the House, penultimate week, over the murder Dr. Ferry Gberegbe and Ibisaki Amachree, among others.
Speaking through Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of the state, Dr Zacheaus Adangor, the governor, among other prayers, sought for the immediate redeployment of the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen Jamil Sarham, payment of compensation by the Army to families of those killed and unlawfully arrested during the elections.
From figures made available to The Tide, about 13 persons were killed in Akuku-Toru as 23 sustained injuries, while in Ahoada-West, about 30 persons were arrested and manhandled, just as in Andoni, five were detained.
Similarly, Tai had 11 persons detained while in Opobo/Nkoro, 15 persons, including the state Commissioner for Education, Dr. Tamunosisi Gogo-Jaja were also illegally detained.
Meanwhile, Gogo-Jaja and Peoples Democratic Party stalwart in Asari-Toru, Chief Pawariso Horsfall have recalled the trauma and abuse they suffered in the hands of the Army before and during the general election.
Gogo-Jaja explained that his house was ransacked, as his wife and children suffered psychological trauma, while his visitors were manhandled on March 7.
Though he was released after questioning on suspicion of harbouring criminals at his home, he alleged that he lost valuables, including N1.5million.
On the hand, Horsfall narrated how his house was vandalised by suspected soldiers who claimed they were searching for criminals.
He narrated how one Captain Balarabe led soldiers who stormed his house at about 1.30am and another Supol Abu, who led a police team to search his home thereafter.
However, the Army authorities have denied involvement in the alleged acts.
Representative of the Nigerian Army during the committee’s sitting, Brig-Gen Felix Omogui, maintained that the Army complied with clearly spelt out rules of engagement.
Omogui said, “On the alleged murder of Mrs Amachree, it’s laughable that we will kill a law-abiding citizen”, as he added, there were cases of unknown soldiers, “we had so many cases and arrested many of them.”
However, the House of Representatives Committee investigating killings and violence during the general election in Rivers State has sued for peace and healing in the state.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Rimande Kwenum, who made the prayer, yesterday, as the committee rounded up its public hearing in Port Harcourt, said the panel was set up to avert such violence in the future and ensure healing in the state.
He frowned at the way security agencies conducted themselves but said there was need for preventing such in the future, as he called on the political class to mend fences.
The same view was expressed by Hon. Kingsley Chinda, representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency in the House, and who moved the motion for the committee’s investigation.
Chinda held that the elections in Rivers State were more of a battle field with F-SARS and Army being major actors.
He argued that the action of both the Army and police was unconstitutional, and therefore, the panel was set to straighten the system to avert future occurrence.
“I will continue to raise issues that border on the sanctity of the nation…It’s only truth that can heal wound, but if we sweep truth under the carpet, it can aggravate the situation”, he further submitted.
Meanwhile, the father of murdered lecturer and Ogoni youth leader, Dr Ferry Gberegbe, during the just-concluded guber and House of Assembly elections, yesterday, prayed for justice over his son’s death.
Mr. Conduct Gberigbe while praying the House of Representatives Committee on the Army, Police Affairs, Justice and Human Rights during a two-day public hearing on the violence and killings in Rivers State during the general election, stressed that those who killed his son should be brought to book.
The former police officer, who came with pictures of late son as a teenager, shed tears as he recalled the closeness he shared with late Dr. Gberegbe.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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