The biggest shock in the ongoing saga between the former governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, and the current Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, is perhaps the breaking news that the governor’s Chief of Staff, Edison Ehie, has been declared wanted by the Inspector-General of Police.
It may even be more shocking that terror and murder were the stones hanged on the Chief of Staff, showing that the hands behind this development are determined to cause harm, havoc and instability in Rivers State. Whenever such persons want to deal with you, they are known to invent the crime that is in vogue and that carries maximum penalty and serious uproar from the masses. It is clear that Fubara is the target.
It is also obvious that the office of Chief of Staff in Rivers State has been a contentious one for the mere fact that the man who wants to control Rivers State was once the Chief of Staff in Government House. He alone seems to know what that sensitive position means in prosecuting war against citizens or groups.
Many would recall that it was the position he occupied that fired possibilities in his heart and created the hunger to become a senator. To pacify him, he was offered the position of minister. It is also true that he wanted to keep both the position of minister and Chief of Staff by nominating a proxy. It was the rejection of such behemoth arrangement that created a big rift between him and his boss then, the then governor of the state.
It is on record that he also imposed his own Chief of Staff on his godson (Fubara) as part of the scheme to control the governor, the state and the structure of power and governance, probably to also control the treasury. Now that the governor has said enough is enough and appointed his own Chief of Staff, suddenly, the appointee is a terrorist and murderer. They know the charges that do not qualify for bail and they choose such charges, fully advised by their police collaborators, to stick them on their target.
That is why those who were alarmed by the threats of making Rivers State ungovernable, being that this had been crafted in the past (during Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s last years), people of the state have a clear idea of what that threat means. They therefore see declaring Ehie wanted by the police as a pure act of aggression and a starting point in the fulfillment of that threat.
That must be why some citizens such as Ezebunwo Ichemati in their publications said people of the state are not surprised by this strategy because they have seen it before and it has emerged as the fighting tool of men of influence.
More surprising is that this declaration came just few days after he was announced as Chief of Staff. This made many to wonder if that was why his appointment was delayed all this while. Many persons in the state have not forgotten what threw Ehie up in the crisis. A meeting of the lawmakers in the state was said to have been called to brief them and mobilise them to impeach the sitting governor. Their signatures were required in the plot.
It was learnt that he was one of four lawmakers that argued against such a move and refused to sign no matter the persuasion. This is said to have angered the plotters and their master who right there marked him for destruction. Ehie was to later emerge as the Speaker leading a faction of the Rivers State House of Assembly. On this score, therefore, every crime in the world is reserved for him so as to hang him.
As Ichemati stated in his publication, “What we are faced with as a state is a furtherance of that unpatriotic promise to a state that has given Chief Wike everything. While the embattled APC lawmakers in the state are doing his bidding to frustrate governance, the Inspector General of Police is on one side arresting and declaring as wanted persons on frivolous charges, former allies of Chief Wike who have publicly chosen to stand in solidarity with Governor Fubara.
“Today, the Nigeria Police that used to be the greatest enemy of Wike as then governor of Rivers State because of the political sentiments of then IGP Ibrahim Idris, which even made Rivers State to have the highest number of transferred Commissioners of Police, have suddenly become willing tools again because of another round of political sentiments.”
The then governor, Wike, never saw anything good in the Nigeria Police, and he left no one in doubt how much he detested them. He led the campaigns against almost every Commissioner of Police posted to the state except anyone that accepted his ‘hand of fellowship’. He led the campaign against SARS that almost crashed Nigeria.
Now, suddenly, he seems to be the best friend of the same police; not because the police have been reformed to become what he wanted them to be but because he is now on the side of the Federal Government and the ruling party. Does this not mean that whatever is not working for him is bad for Nigeria, and what works for him is very good for the people?
Ichemati also argues that the passage of time has revealed a lot, that Wike, who used the people to resist the police for eight years, has lost the people and he is now using the police to fight the same people who stood with him in solidarity and in defence of his government against the police.
“Everyone on the wanted list and those already arrested, are all former allies of Chief Wike who stood with him for eight years. Today, they all have trumped up and frivolous charges on their heads because of their support for Gov. Fubara since the political crisis started between Chief Wike and his successor,” Ichemati wrote.
Many argue that since the political quagmire that has bedevilled Rivers State, the Nigeria Police authorities have actually made no pretense about their biased roles from when they deliberately tear-gassed and poured pressure water on Fubara, that not one person has been made to account for that humiliation on a sitting governor.
The Rivers scenario seems to expose the deeper rot in the Nigerian police system. The police are good but some of its leaders exploit loopholes deliberately created to feather their nets. They seem to use the force as their force, not the one meant for internal security and order. The people have been made to believe that sadly, whenever it comes to political fights in Rivers State, the police have always been willing tools of witch-hunt in the hands of politicians with federal backing. They, however, believe that these schemes would always crash, just like yesterday.
Rivers people are meeting at different places and layers, but their message for once is firm and unified. They want any outsider to note that the people are united and will not be cowed by what many call ‘supermarket court orders’ or intimidating declarations from biased federal institutions. They seem to know that these institutions are for federal officers, not for the people, and certainly not for Rivers State interests.
The Rivers people are amazed that some youths, who have chosen the path of amnesia by celebrating the arrest of their comrades and placement of Ehie Edison and others on a wanted list, have forgotten that it is part of the price that comes with standing for justice. That is why many have recalled how the people of the state marched the streets of Port Harcourt in solidarity alongside Wike to submit a petition against Akin Fakorede for intimidation and harassment at the Police Command headquarters in Rivers State. The people of the state can still do it again, and very soon.
Ichemati has helped many others to recall how loyalists of Wike – Rowland Sekibo, Samuel Nwanosike, Darlington Orji and the late Chief Odiari – were politically arrested, made to sit on the floor in Etche Local Council and later charged to court on frivolous charges; and how they later used the state Government House as a safe haven until that matter died a natural death, because there was an order to re-arrest and move them to Abuja.
They have recalled how the then Camp Commandant to Wike, SP London Erikefe, was arrested by the Nigerian Army and made to sit on the floor and was also paraded with frivolous charges.
“These and many more are the combined unprofessional misconduct and bias by the Police and Army against Wike and his supporters that Rivers people stood in solidarity with him and condemned in very strong terms. But today, Wike is now using the same police against those who stood with and for him because of political differences and the battle of supremacy that has engulfed our state.
“Today, the same SP London Erikefe, then Camp Commandant to Wike, that Rivers people stood in defence for when he was arrested and paraded by the Army, is the one in charge of a deadly police squad responsible for the arrest and transfer to Abuja supporters of Governor Sim,” Ichemati recalled.
That seems to be why the Rivers people are once again calling on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene by calling the evil forces to order. For the avoidance of doubt, the masses of Rivers State and beyond are behind their governor.
*Eluwe wrote from Port Harcourt