Saturday, 14 September 2013

News Release: Assault On Constitutionalism And Descent Into Anarchy

We received the news of the blockade mounted in front of Rivers Government House by the Nigeria Police Force on Thursday, September 12, 2013 with shock and disbelief. Rivers State Governor, H.E. Rotimi Amaechi was as a result refused access to his own office in a manner that only translates to illegal takeover of Rivers State Government by the Police Authorities and suspension of all relevant powers of the Governor as the Chief Security Officer of the State as provided by the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. This action of the Rivers Police Command is an assault on constitutional rule and portends a descent to anarchy.

Since July 2013, the situation in Rivers continues to constitute a major threat to our democracy. The inability of Federal Authorities to exercise all the necessary constitutional and moral authority to ensure speedy resolution of the crisis has remained a source of danger for our democracy and the life of Governor Amaechi and those of other public officers serving in the state. This is a bad precedent and we wonder if this is not a signal for a similar bloackade to be mounted against the President at the Presidential Villa.

This is unfortunate and all Nigerians must rise to this challenge by calling on the Federal Government and all its agencies, including all arms of the security services to respect the letter and spirit of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. In the specific case of Rivers State, provisions of Section 215(4) of the 1999 Constitution must be fully respected. This section provides that the Governor “may give to the Commissioner of Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and security of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with”.

A situation whereby the Federal Government will use powers vested in it under the constitution to bully and intimidate state governments is unacceptable and should be resisted by every democratic government. As Governors, we view events of September 12 in Rivers as a direct affront on constitutional order in the country. We wish to unequivocally state our resolve to work with all democrats in the country to ensure adequate protection of democratic governance.

Enough is Enough!


Progressive Governors' Forum

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