The political crisis rocking Rivers state, southsouth Nigeria, took a new dimension when on Thursday the State Police Command ordered the withdrawal of Mobile Policemen guarding the Okrika Local Government boss and the council secretariat.
The withdrawal of the policemen from Mr Tamuno Williams, the chairman of Okrika Local Government Council, who is Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s loyalist, followed his interview on Channels Television, during which he condemned the sealing off of Obio Akpor council secretariat by the police,which he considered illegal.
Williams, confirmed it was true that all the Mobile Policemen who had until Thursday morning provided security for the council and himself, had been withdrawn without notice.
According to him, he was yet to be told officially who ordered the withdrawal of the policemen. He said when he tried to find out who directed the withdrawal of the policemen he was told that it was “an order from above”.
“All the mobile policemen attached to the council and my office have been withdrawn. No name has been mentioned as to who might have given the order for the withdrawal. Everybody has just been saying ‘order from above’. As I am talking to you now we are without police protection,” William said.
The state’s Police Commissioner, Mbu Joseph Mbu, declined to speak on the issue.
Angela Agabe, DSP, the new Police Public Relations Officer of the Command, who resumed duty Thursday, said she had got across to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Okrika and was still expecting details of what happened from him.
The Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, expressed shock at the action of the police, saying it is becoming increasingly difficult not to believe that the police in the state had not been compromised.
She expressed worry that a council like Okrika where many federal economic installations are located could be subjected to a situation that exposes it to danger as the police had done.
“It is difficult at this point now to determine if this is about misjudgement or if indeed the police commissioner is doing these things. It is worrisome when you hear that a local government chairman goes on air and immediately after, the police commissioner directs the Mopol commander to withdraw the Mopol attached to Okrika. You then no longer understand what exactly is going on, whether it is about politics or about security because in a place like Okrika, it will be unthinkable that the police commissioner will ask that the Mopol in Okrika be withdrawn.
“Nobody can explain that and that is where you have vital federal installations. So what is this about? I really had, up till now, chosen to believe that the CP was not involved in any of these shenanigans going on, but with this latest thing now, I’m beginning to have cause to worry and I really hope that I am still correct,” Semenitari said.