There was a drama in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Thursday as policemen stopped Governor Rotimi Amaechi from gaining entrance into the Government House.
Amaechi was in company with 102 former Speakers of state Houses of Assembly when a team of policemen, allegedly drafted by the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu, blocked the Forces Avenue which leads to Amaechi’s residence in the Government House.
After about 30 minutes of heated argument between Amaechi, his aides and the policemen, the governor’s convoy had to turn back and take another route.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, who confirmed the incident, told The PUNCH that even when the governor personally came down from his vehicle to introduce himself to the leader of the police team, he and his guests were still not allowed passage.
The leader of the team, according to her, said, “ I do not take orders from civilians.’
The incident, it was learnt, lasted for more than 30 minutes before the governor decided to take another way.
Semenitari said, “The State Commissioner of Police ordered his men to barricade the road. Indeed, they (policemen) knew that it was the governor.
“The governor came down from his vehicle and introduced himself to the leader of the police team that blocked the road. But the leader said he does not take orders from civilians.
“The governor, who was with some visitors, later turned back and took a longer route to his residence inside the Government House.”
Also, the Chief of Staff, Government House, Chief Tony Okocha, told our correspondent that Amaechi was with 102 former speakers that came from different parts of the country when the incident happened.
Okocha added that the incident happened in the full glare of the visitors and described it as unfortunate. He added that it was planned to embarrass the governor.
He said there was a heated argument between the governor’s entourage and the policemen that blocked the road before he (Amaechi) decided to leave the scene.
He pointed out that the thinking earlier was that the policemen were only guiding the sealed New PDP secretariat located on the same road.
The Chief of Staff said, “It is good that this happened in the full glare of the visitors. We have said it on several occasions that Rivers State is under siege. Mbu ordered his men to stop the governor from entering the Government House.
“We did not bother to call the Commissioner of Police because some of the policemen there said they were acting on his (Mbu) order.”
Reacting, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Angela Agabe, dismissed the claim that police blocked the governor and his guests.
Agabe said security operatives were not at the Government House, but only mounted a guard at the New PDP Secretariat that was sealed off on Thursday.
She claimed that some hoodlums with PDP flags took over the property before the policemen were sent to disperse them when they (hoodlums) started fighting.
A former Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, and Simon Lalong of Plateau State, were said to be among the 102 former speakers.
The former speakers, who belong to a national association, were in Port Harcourt for a meeting before paying the governor a courtesy visit.They later joined him on an inspection tour of some of his projects.
Amaechi had earlier met with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Port Harcourt International Airport during the President’s trip to Bayelsa State.
Before Thursday’s incident, there had been no love lost between Amaechi and Mbu since he (Mbu) assumed duty as the state commissioner of police.
The disagreement between them started with the takeover of the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area secretariat by policemen after the suspension of the chairman, Timothy Nsirim, by the state House of Assembly.
Before then, Mbu had during his maiden interaction with newsmen warned that gone were the days policemen would be used like errand boys.
The police commissioner later withdrew security aides to the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Otelemaba Amachree, and some local government chairmen.
Security operatives in the Government House were also withdrawn, a development that worsened the already strained relationship between Amaechi and Mbu as the governor believed that Mbu’s actions were against his (Amaechi) perceived supporters.
The governor had on several occasions called for Mbu’s redeployment to no avail as the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, insisted that he had carried out his job in a professional manner.
While the National Assembly had directed that Mbu be redeployed, such a directive had not been executed.