The alleged withdrawal of the security details of the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, by the police featured prominently during the town hall meeting Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had with the people of the state on Monday.
Mr. Osinbajo is touring the Niger Delta region of the country to promote a “new engagement” that is expected to usher in lasting peace in the troubled region.
Some women in the state in their presentation to Mr. Osinbajo said they were ready to offer themselves as security to protect Mr. Wike against any harm.
Ann-Kio Briggs, a popular Niger Delta activist, spoke on behalf of the women.
“As women, we must express our serious concern on the removal of the security details of our governor,” Ms. Briggs said.
“If our governor is exposed to the risk of having inadequate security, this poses not only a threat to our state but to our economy and to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“(And) if this extreme danger continues, as mothers we may have no other alternative but to consider protecting our governor.”
Ms. Briggs remarks elicited cheers from the crowd inside the hall, especially from the women.
She said the women would no longer be left out of whatever plans Nigeria has towards the Niger Delta.
“Women are the bedrock of our society,” she added.
The traditional rulers in the state also added their voice to the call for the “restoration” of the governor’s security details.
The Chairman, Rivers State Council of Chiefs, Douglas Jaja, who spoke on behalf of the traditional rulers, said Mr. Wike was the only governor in Nigeria without security men.
“Governor Wike is our son. As fathers, when any of our sons is in danger we get worried. We are worried (that) he may be set up for attack or assassination,” said Mr. Jaja who is also the Amanyanabo of Opobo Kingdom.
Mr. Jaja told the acting president, “We have no doubt that as a man of God you do uphold the sanctity of life.
“It is on this basis that we request that you assist us by bringing pressure to bear on the inspector general of police to restore the governor’s security aides to their former position.
“Under his watch, this state has protected the federal government infrastructure. No case of pipeline vandalisation has been reported in recent years.
“We believe that having done so well as a governor, he should not be subjected to such torture. Rather, he should be encouraged to do more.”
When it was the turn of Mr. Wike to address the meeting, the governor said he was in support of “all their presentations”.
The governor said that the Rivers government was not in contention against the federal government.
He enumerated what he said were his administration’s contributions to the federal government, including providing support for the security agencies in the state, the prevention of militant attacks on oil pipelines and the repairs of a section of the East-West Road.
He, however, added that the federal government in return wasn’t giving the state a fair treatment.
Mr. Wike said the Port Harcourt International Airport, owned by the federal government, for instance, was a disgrace to the state and the nation, and that most of the federal roads in the states were in dilapidated condition.
The governor accused the federal government of not allowing the seventh train of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, project in the state to kick off, as well as doing “political stunts” with the Ogoni clean-up campaign which the federal government flagged off last year.
The acting president, Mr. Osinbajo in his response, said Rivers State was important to the country’s economy, and that the federal government was beginning a “new partnership” with the state and the entire Niger Delta region.
“I am assuring you that this will be the beginning of the narrative that will change the Niger Delta,” Mr. Osinbajo said.
The acting president didn’t, however, respond to the issue of Governor Wike’s security details, apart from jokingly asking that the women extend their security protection to him (Mr. Osinbajo) as well.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, he denied that the police had withdrawn Mr. Wike’s security details.
Mr. Moshood said the police officers that were withdrawn from the governor’s security were those “found wanting” during the last legislative re-run election, and that they were dismissed from the police after an administrative trial.
The dismissed police officers were awaiting prosecution, he said.