The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned, in very strong terms, the devilish attack on the church of the father of the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, in Port Harcourt, last Saturday night.
The PDP also demanded for a comprehensive investigation into the explosion that rocked the Christian Universal Church, in the Azikiwe Street area of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Making its position known in a statement, yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Our party condemns this dastardly attack on the church, which we believe was well planned and targeted to cause harm to worshippers and persons close to Governor Wike, particularly, his father.
“The PDP is disturbed by the intentions of the attackers in detonating an explosive in a religious place, particularly given the large number of persons that usually gather at such places.
“While we demand for a thorough investigation into the attack as well as prosecution of all those involved, we hold, as a party, that the time has come, more than ever in our contemporary history, for the amendment of our extant laws to allow state governors to be in charge of the security of their respective states.
“We restate our call for the amendment of relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution (as emended) to allow states more control of security issues in their respective domains.
“Our party, however, commends the people of River state for their alertness, which led to the arrest of the attackers. Such courageous act by the people also points to the need to allow greater participation of communities and state governments in the handling of security issues in their environment.
“The PDP, especially commends Governor Nyesom Wike, for his efforts towards ensuring the security of his state despite the daunting challenges.
“The PDP urges Governor Wike, the members of the Christian Universal Church and the people of Rivers State not to be deterred by this attack but to remain at alert, especially at this critical time”, the statement added.
Earlier, the Rivers State Police Command had confirmed the attack on the church of Governor Nyesom Wike’s father in Port Harcourt, last Saturday night.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the state command, SP Nnamdi Omoni, who confirmed the development, yesterday, said that three suspects have already been arrested.
Omoni, who promised to give more details of the development, said: “I can confirm the attack on the church, and three suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack.
“They (arrested suspects) are helping us in our investigation. The church has been swept by the Bomb Department. More details will follow later.”
It would be recalled that two suspects, who allegedly detonated dynamite at Governor Nyesom Wike’s father’s church, popularly called, Christian Universal Church International at #25, Azikiwe Street, Mile 3, Diobu, Port Harcourt, last Saturday night, around 12midnight were nabbed by vigilant youths of the area shortly after attempting to detonate the explosive device.
It was gathered that the youths, who gave the suspects the beating of their lives, also handed them over to the police, on arrival at the crime scene a few minutes later.
One of the youths, who is the Assistant Chief Security Officer of the area, Collins Johnbull, in an interview, said that they saw five men entering the church at about 9pm adding that the youths had assumed that the suspects were church members.
Collins disclosed that after some minutes, they heard a loud sound suspected to be dynamite, explaining that shortly after the explosion, they saw the hoodlums running out of the church with guns.
The assistant chief security officer said that he quickly mobilised his men, and arrested two of the suspects before arrival of the police.
Johnbull said, “On Saturday, 28th day of November, 2020, while I was on my duty post, we observed some movements around 8pm to 9pm, and we were on the alert, before then, we saw some strange faces, about five of them, that entered into the governor’s father’s church, and we thought they were church members having their normal evening programme, but we were suspicious of them because of the way they were moving.
“About five minutes after the boys entered the church, there was an explosion, we heard a banging noise like that of a bomb from the church, and we immediately approached the church, and saw them (the suspects) jumping out of the church wearing masks and carrying guns, and they started shooting at my men.
“By God’s grace, we were able to apprehend three of the criminals that attacked the church, while two escaped. We did everything in our power to apprehend the hoodlums. As we are talking now, one of my men who was hit by a bullet, is receiving treatment.”
Another member of the security team, Uche Brown, said one of their members was in the hospital because of the injury he sustained while going after the hoodlums, but also corroborated Johnbull’s narrative that three suspects have been taken into custody.
According to Brown, “Around 8.43pm, some hoodlums who attacked the state governor’s father’s church at Azikiwe Street tried to bring down the building by throwing dynamites into it but (they) did not succeed.
“When they noticed that the security men were approaching them, they tried to escape, and we apprehended three of them, while two escaped, before the arrival of the police who took them into custody.”
They pleaded for assistance from the governor to ensure the payment of medical bills of the security personnel, who helped in the arrest of the suspects.
When The Tide visited the area, yesterday, there was heavy presence of security agents around the area, including Omoku/Azikiwe to UBA through Azikiwe Street, as the entire area had been cordoned off from vehicular traffic.
It was also discovered that a little part of the window glass in the building was shattered.
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
Nkanga’s Death Has Left A Void In N’Delta, Wike Laments
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike says the untimely death of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd) has dealt a severe blow to Niger Delta struggle.
Wike made this assertion when he visited the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Emmanuel Udom at the Government House, Uyo, yesterday, to commiserate with him over the death of Nkanga and the state Chairman of PDP, Udo Ekpenyong.
The Rivers State governor said the death of the PANDEF chairman has created a deep void in the agitation for restructuring of Nigeria in line with the principle of true federalism.
“The PANDEF chairman stood for the struggle of the Niger Delta, restructuring of this country. As Rivers people, we are all from Niger Delta. We face the same problems. So, if anything happens to Akwa Ibom State, it also affects Rivers State. We have lost a voice. Whether anybody likes it or not. We have lost a voice.”
Wike, who described the death of both the PANDEF and PDP chairmen as painful, urged Udom and the people of Akwa Ibom State to take solace in God over the death of these two great sons of the state.
In appreciation of the immense contribution of the late PANDEF chairman to the Niger Delta struggle, Wike said Rivers State Government will collaborate with Akwa Ibom State Government to support his family and accord him a befitting funeral.
“My brother, we will support you to sustain the family. We will support you for the burial of the late PANDEF chairman. Rivers State Government will want to be fully involved in whatever it takes to give him a befitting burial.”
Wike, also lamented the abrupt death of Ekpenyong who was just recently elected chairman of the party in the state.
In his response, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Emmanuel Udom, thanked Wike and Rivers State delegation for standing by the people of Akwa Ibom in their moment of grief.
Udom said the death of Nkanga, who was the Director General of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Divine Mandate Campaign organisation 2015 and 2019, was emotionally devastating to him and the people of the state.
“He was my DG for both first term and second term. For somebody who had been your director general for first and second term, you know the man must have proven that high level of loyalty and integrity.
“What he doesn’t say in front of you, he will never say it behind you. He was that man at that level of integrity, character.”
He urged the governors of the South-South states to collaborate with the Akwa Ibom Government to give Nkanga a befitting funeral next month.
Udom, who described death as a mystery that only God understands, said he was saddened about the death of his state party chairman, who according to him epitomizes loyalty.
“In fact, my party chairman when they are introducing him, they use to call him Mr Loyalty. He was that loyal to our party. He had served the party at the national level; he started serving the party at the state level. If you want any definition for loyalty, just look for Udo Ekpenyong.”
NSCDC Uncovers 119 Gallons Of Adulterated AGO In Rivers
The Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Rivers State, Commandant Muktar Lawal says the command has uncovered an illegal dump of 119 25-liter gallons of adulterated AGO, and arrested one suspect, saying that the Special Anti-Vandal Team which specialised in identifying illegal dumps in the state, was responsible for the discovery and arrest.
A statement signed by the spokesperson of the command, Assistant Commandant Oguntuase Michael, and made available to The Tide said that at about 1500hrs on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, the anti-vandal team arrested a suspect, one Mr. Ezike Shoke, with a Volkswagen Jetta car loaded with suspected illegally-refined AGO, in gallons (25liters), 56 in number at an illegal dump situated at number 34 Arochukwu Street, Rumumasi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
According to the statement, the illegal dump where the suspected products were seized was situated at a residential area making it unacceptable and dangerous for residents of the area due to the adverse health effects it poses to the people.
The statement also said that 57 empty gallons found at the crime scene were seized while investigation is ongoing to arrest all the fleeing gang members who are connected to the dastardly act.
He said that when they are arrested, they would be charged to court.
RSG Orders Civil Servants To Stay-At-Home
The Rivers State Government has directed civil servants on salary grade levels 01 to 13 to stay-at-home to check the spread of a spike in the second wave of the novel Covid-19 pandemic.
The state government’s position was made clear in a statement signed by the state Head of Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins, in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The statement, copied to the Secretary to the State Government, the Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House, all honourable commissioners, all chairmen of commissions, all permanent secretaries, the accountant general, the auditors-general of state and local government, the surveyor-general, all special advisers and senior special assistants, all heads of non-ministerial and extra-ministerial departments, the clerk, Rivers State House of Assembly, and the Rivers State Liaison officers, Lagos and Abuja, with reference number: A.779/Vol.11/156, and dated January 19, 2021, was titled, “Stay-At-Home Directive for Officers on Salary Grade Levels 01 – 13 due to Covid-19 Pandemic Second Wave”.
The statement reads, “Following the current hike in the incidence of the Covid-19 pandemic due to the second wave of the virus, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has directed all civil servants on salary grade levels 01 -13, except those on indispensable essential duties to stay away from duty forthwith, while officers from grade levels 14 and above should be on duty, and assume full responsibilities for their offices until further notice.
“Accordingly, all permanent secretaries, and heads of extra-ministerial officers should ensure compliance with this directive within the strict context of the Covid-19 Protocols. This directive, which takes effect from Wednesday, January 20, 2021, shall remain in force until His Excellency, directs otherwise, please.”
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
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