Mr. Amaechi says the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Rivers State holds dire consequence for Rivers, Niger Delta and Nigeria
Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, to investigate the “grave and deteriorating human rights situations” that he alleged were orchestrated by the state’s Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu.
The petition, dated October 1 and addressed to the Chairman of NHRC, Chidi Odinkalu, compares the security situation in Rivers State to that of Baga, in Maidugiri, where scores of people were allegedly killed by soldiers pursuing members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, last April.
Mr. Amaechi, therefore called on the NHRC to replicate its “groundbreaking engagement” of the Baga massacre to investigate the security concerns in the state.
“I believe and assert that the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Rivers State – if not urgently addressed – holds dire consequence – not just for the over 5 million citizens in the state but for the whole Niger Delta and indeed Nigeria as a whole.”
The governor says the NHRC is the only legal authority available to hear his concerns as the Mbu-led police in the state have become “antagonistic,” “inaccessible,” “ineffective” and “compromised.” Mr. Mbu fell out with the Governor soon after M.r Amaechi and the First Lady, Patience Jonathan, had an altercation.
Mr. Amaechi once claimed that police officers, under the instruction of Mr. Mbu, blocked the road to Rivers State’s government house, forcing the governor to take an alternative route to the office. Mr. Mbu, however denied he was out to victimised the governor. He described him as a power-hungry dictator who hated him because he refused to be subservient to him.
In his petition, Mr. Amaechi, asks the NHRC to use its “legal power and competencies” to salvage the strategic security formation infrastructures and networks in the state allegedly compromised by Mr. Mbu through his “pattern of actins and utterances.”
“Mr. Mbu’s mode of exercising his duties – without recourse to necessary constitutional and legal standards – is creating an environment rife with fear, distrust of public operatives and public institutions, strife, impunity, criminal behaviours and brigandage: factors which were all complicit in the build-up and the escalation of the pre-amnesty Niger Delta.”
The governor says by refusing to acknowledge communication from his office, Mr. Mbu has “unilaterally and unlawfully” precluded his role as the chief security officer of the state. By his alleged undisguised antagonistic behaviours towards the office of the governor, Mr. Amaechi says that the police commissioner has “undermined inter-agency security collaborations, democratic activities of elected and appointed public officers and the operation of whole meeting of government.”
“Currently, due principally to the subversive actions of Rivers State Police Commissioner, the regular meeting of the Security council of the State – made up of the police, military and paramilitary formations within the state under the Chairmanship of the Governor as the Chief Security Officer no longer holds.
By truncating the official platform for inter-agency collaboration, Mr. Mbu has contrived a law enforcement environment devoid of accountability and transparency with regards to the operation of various security agencies in the state. Already, there are disturbing new facts which support old trends generally recognised as factors in systematic abuses in human rights of defenceless residents in the hands of state security operatives.”
Mr. Amaechi states these abuses as including: “the prolonged detention of persons in un-gazetted detention facilities without access to legal process and human rights safeguard under judicial supervision;” “undermining the capability of the Rivers State Government to timeously provide access to humanitarian deliverables –directly or in consent with relevant national and international relief or emergency agencies;” and the staggering of the capacity of the state government to monitor alleged or real instances of forced displacement with all the bouquet of human rights abuses associated with it.”
He also adds that the police commissioner’s hostility has undermined the state’s “significant investment in the welfare, facilities, materials and instructors in the specialised training of security personnel working in the state“ and “destruction of morale, spirit de corps and principled commitment to professionalism among security operatives.”
He says he was left with no other course of action but to approach the commission as the police authority had refused repeated entreaties to call Mr. Mbu to order. He appeals to the commission to intervene so as to put the state back on the “pathway of peace law and order, development and good governance.” The Senate President, David Mark, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, were copied in the petition.
Police authorities had ignored a Senate resolution that Mr. Mbu be redeployed in the interest of peace in the state.