Less than 24 hours after visiting President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Rock Abuja, Governor Nyesom Wike on Saturday accused the federal government of plotting to impose a state of emergency in Rivers State.
Governor Wike who spent less than 10 minutes with Buhari during the meeting in Abuja on Friday, also raised an alarm that security agents threatened to shoot him as he foiled an attempt to kidnap a federal judge in the state on Saturday.
Our correspondent gathered that security agents comprising policemen and officials of the Department of State Security (DSS), led by the state Commissioner of police, Mr Francis Odesanya and Director of DSS in the state, Mr Tosin Ajayi, in the early hours of Saturday stormed the residence of a federal judge at 35 Forces Avenue, to arrest him.
But Governor Wike got wind of the visit of the security officials and went there.
The governor said on getting to the residence of the judge, he was manhandled by the security officials and some of them threatened to shoot him for preventing them from arresting the judge.
A statement issued by Simeon Nwakaudu, the Special Assistant to Governor Wike said ”operatives of DSS rough-handled Governor Wike, pushing him around and injuring his hand. A few of the operatives cocked their rifles and threatened to shoot the governor.
”They were irked by Governor Wike’s arrival at the scene shortly after the failed abduction process began. It was learnt that Governor Wike received security information on the illegal moves, minutes after the operation started.
”The security operatives blocked the entrance of the residence of the Federal High Court judge at about 1am on Saturday morning, claiming that they were acting on orders from above. As they dragged Governor Wike, they insisted that they must be allowed to leave with the judge.
”However, the commotion attracted passers by and journalists who thronged the vicinity to know why hundreds of security agents in several patrol vans had been mobilised.
”Upon the arrival of the national media, the Rivers State Director of the DSS, Mr Tosin Ajayi jumped into his vehicle and fled the scene.
”However, addressng journalists, Rivers State Police Commissioner, Francis Odesanya said the two security agencies were at the scene because they received privileged information.
”Odesanya claimed he was at the scene as a peace maker. He declined comments on why the Police joined the DSS to abduct a serving Federal High Court judge.
”In an interview with journalists at the scene of the failed illegal abduction of a Federal High Court judge by the Police and DSS, Governor Wike said it will not be under his watch that security agencies wiĺl be allowed to entrench needless impunity.
”He declared that their reckless action portends danger to the nation’s democracy, noting that he is convinced that President Buhari is not aware of the level of impunity being perpetrated by Federal Security agencies.
”Governor Wike stated that whatever the situation, the rule of law must prevail in a democratic setting.
”He said if the security agencies had a lawful directive to implement, they must follow due process .
”According to him: ‘Not under my watch wiĺl I allow this kind of impunity to take place. That is why we are here. I don’t know which judge they were detailed to abduct. I didn’t bother myself to know which judge. All I am interested in is that, at this level, it is not allowed.
“He is not a criminal and he is not an armed robber. If the person has committed an offence, invite him. It is only when he refuses to honour the invitation that you can adopt this commando style.
“The Commissioner of Police is here, the Director of DSS is here. Their operatives cocked their guns and threatened to shoot me. I have never seen that before. Again , this is to tell you what we are facing . We know that more will come. For us in this state, we shall continue to resist it.”
”Governor Wike added: ‘It doesn’t matter what it will cost. When you talk about liberty, sacrifices must be made. We are not trying to stop an arrest. All we are saying is that things must be done decently and in line with the rule of law.
“Rivers State is under siege. For you to see a governor out at this time of the day, something is wrong. A siege is an understatement. If this type of thing happens next time, the people wiĺl resist it to the last”.
”The governor stressed: ‘They are trying to do something funny in this state, probably to declare a state of emergency,” the Government House statement concluded.
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt