DSS, police assaulted me, Wike claims …vows to resist impunity under his watch

There was pandemonium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital yesterday as alleged attempt by scores of Federal security agencies to arrest a Judge of the Federal High Court serving in the state hit a brick wall.

This is as it was gathered that the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, was allegedly manhandled by security operatives when he tried to prevent the latter from carrying out the arrest.

It was also learnt that operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS and the Police stormed the residence of the Judge located on Number 35 Forces Avenue in Port Harcourt in the wee hours of Saturday in patrol vans.

They (federal agents) reportedly blocked the entrance of the residence of the Federal High Court judge at about 1am yesterday, claiming that they were acting on orders from above.

A statement issued in Port Harcourt on Saturday said the siege on the state was led by Mr Tosin Ajayi, Rivers State Director of the Department of State Services (DSS) and Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr Francis Odesanya. The statement by Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the State Governor on Electronic Media said his principal, Governor Wike sustained injury while being pushed around by security operatives.

It reads, “The operatives of DSS reportedly 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,” Nwakaudu alleged.

Continuing, the governor’s aide said, “They (the security operatives) 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,” the statement said. However, the commotion attracted passersby and journalists who thronged the vicinity to know why hundreds of security agents in several Patrol vans had been mobilized.

Nwakaudu further said, upon arrival of the national media, the Rivers State Director of the DSS, Mr Tosin Ajayi, jumped into his vehicle and fled the scene.

However, addressing 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 arrest a serving Federal High Court judge.

In an interview with journalists at the scene of the failed arrest, Governor Wike said it will not be under his watch that security agencies will 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.

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 will 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 will 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.

Meanwhile, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Francis Mobolaji Odesanya has denied media reports that operatives of the Command and the Department of State Services (DSS) attempted to kidnap a judge of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on Saturday morning.

Governor Wike had accused the Police and DSS of man handling him when he confronted them while attempting to kidnap a judge at about 1:00am yesterday.

But, Odesanya, who spoke through the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Omoni Nnamdi, said he led a team of policemen to restore law and order following heated argument between operatives of the DSS and policemen attached to the affected judge.