By Odimegwu Onwumere
The news came like a thunderbolt. The newspapers of February 4, were awash that the beleaguered Commissioner of Police in Rivers State has banned political rallies in the state under whatever shadow or name. The statement was reportedly made by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Ahmad Muhamaad. The Commissioner said that the decision was to checkmate what he said was the increasing political tension in the state. Since the statement was made, a lot of commentators have argued in favour or against the decision. But I do not think that the Commissioner has such a right to enforce the order if he as well had no constitutional right to sway for curfew in a given state.
What I think Mbu Joseph Mbu, the Commissioner of Police is doing in River State, is political mistakes. This was how ex-IG Tafa Balogun was calling the shots then with impunity, but was used and dumped; a fact that Mbu does not realise, because of the lucre of federal power and support he enjoys, with thought that he is holding the government of Governor Chibuike Amaechi down.
While those who are fomenting and writing the scripts that Mbu is playing are enjoying what he is doing, they forgot that when unconstitutionality is abetted in a given society today, it becomes a constitutionality by tommorrow. They forgot that Amaechi is the chief security officer of the state, but they preferred to support Mbu, whose preoccupation outside his professional calling is the height of undemocratic tendencies, as we can see. Last time, a serving Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was shot at, in rally in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, by alleged Mbu?s boys.
In the eyes of Nigerians, Mbu want to paint a picture that his men are on ground in Rivers State to render security to all and sundry, when in some remote and open areas of the state, hardcore and petty criminals have taken to the streets in jubilating moods, because hardly do police show their presence in such areas. I can observe that the job Mbu has taken solely to do in Rivers State is to be marking Amaechi anywhere he went. The presence of Amaechi, as still the governor of the state, is giving those who want him out uncomfortable atmosphere and at the same time making them to expose their crassness to public ridicule.
From my calculation, it is of note that Mbu and his co-travellers are afraid of the mobilisation prowess of Amaechi, hence they are using the futile ban on political rallies to see if they could stem the accelerando with which Amaechi is moving politically. The ban has made the likes of Mbu to look uneducated about the rule of law and the law of the land, tending to be the governor of the state. The seemingly war that the governor was supposed to declare on any erring person or group is what Mbu is doing. Mbu does not want to recognise the authority of the governor, therefore becoming lawless himself. It behooves any states commissioners of police to send whatever proposal to their respective governors of the states they are serving for proper action, but this is not the same in Mbu?s police in Rivers State.
Many law and human rights pundits have been hinting in the media that no section of the citizenry needs police permits before gathering peacefully, but Mbu sees such to be belonging to the Ariel. To him, it is better he plays the tone of the piper than listen to the rhyme and rhythm of the constitution and hardly are those who deployed him to Rivers State are talking but are praising him that he is carrying out his professional duties.
No one should tell me that Mbu is applying the ban to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC. The in-thing is that the PDP in the state, which said that it would go for a thanks giving if Amaechi defects, knew that it has failed since he defected to the APC. So, in order to ramshackle the powers and velocity with which the APC is mobilising in the state, is the thoughtless ban of political rallies, as we can see in the state. But, the question remains: will Mbu not allow elections to be conducted in the state as well. Hooey!
What Mbu is doing in Rivers State calls for condemnation, because his actions are not far from impunity and lawlessness to already lay down rules that govern the state and the country? The IG once banned any sorts of gathering at the airport, because of Rivers State, whereas not banning political rallies all over the country for the sake of peace and order they said they want. This is the police that say they are friends of the people, but will not allow the people to exercise their constitutional rights to/of gathering.
While it is not out of place that police have the right to maintain peace and order in a given environment, the case of police in Rivers State is preposterous, because they churlish an elected governor, who was supposed to be the chief security officer of the state, and enforce laws that he does not understand how they come about and how he will interpret them.
The type of policing that Mbu is practicing in Rivers State, which the IG and the presidency give their support, has shown that the country under President Goodluck Jonathan is practicing dictatorship politics instead of democratic politics. Mbu should stop being Rivers State Commissioner of Politics instead of Commissioner of Police he was supposed to be and, which people knew was his title.
Governor Amaechi did not break down any law or order in Rivers State, it was police that politicised and publicised the political brouhaha in the state to look like there was a war. Amaechi has never shot any teargas canisters at the police, but police has shot teargas canisters at group of persons and even into the Government House, Port Harcourt, when there has never been physical political turmoil in it.
Mbu should stop painting Rivers State a disorderly place, when everyone is going about their normal endeavours without any confrontation. The police should stop crying wolf, when it has refused to let the cat it is holding to go. Mbu should know that there is only one secure way to attain peace he has eroded in the state: a genuine, deep relationship with the governor. This will carry him through all his stay in the state, instead of allowing storm to rage where there is none.
Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu should let love flow instead of turmoil his type of policing has created in Rivers State since he came to the state, showing empty ambitions and material interests. Mbu should know that his moral and constitutional obligations as a senior police officer in Rivers State are not to bring political turmoil resulting to economic bankruptcy, but to protect our liberty.
Odimegwu Onwumere, a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State.