- Posted June 20, 2014 by
Soldiers Stop Oshiomhole, Amaechi from Venturing into Ekiti
•Rivers governor drives to Lagos from Ondo, military denies detaining him •APC, Atiku, Tinubu protest as PDP applauds move •IG deploys AIG, 4 CPs for tomorrow’s election
The federal government displayed its fangs Thursday when in a commando-style operation, soldiers and other security agencies of the federal government prevented Governors Adams Oshiomhole (Edo) and Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers) from travelling to Ekiti State.
Amaechi, who had landed in Akure, the Ondo State capital, in a private airplane, had proceeded by road to Ado-Akiti, the capital of Ekiti State, but was stopped and prevented from entering the state at Iju, a border town in Ondo.
After waiting at the border town without being granted permission to enter Ekiti, Amaechi’s motorcade was compelled to depart Ondo State for Lagos yesterday by road, as his aircraft was prevented from flying out of Akure.
In the case of Oshiomhole, his chartered helicopter was grounded at Benin Airport, while the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, whom the All Progressives Congress (APC) claimed was also prevented from departing from the Aminu Kano International Airport for Akure, was never even scheduled to travel.
According to an online news website, Premium Times, at the time APC was issuing a statement that included Kwankwaso as one of its governor’s that had been refused entry into Ekiti, the Kano State governor’s spokesman, Baba Dantiye, had already informed the website that his principal had no intention of travelling yesterday.
Dantiye said Kwankwaso was at an event in Kano State and had no plans of travelling to Ekiti State.
“The governor is in Kano here; he did not have plans of going to Akure, none that I know of,” Dantiye said.
Perhaps realising that his party had released a statement to the contrary, Dantiye called the news medium back to say he was at an event with the governor and would not “want to confirm or deny” the APC’s claim.
Amaechi and Oshimhole were ostensibly heading to Ekiti to attend the rally of the APC today before the governorship election scheduled for tomorrow.
The governors were expected to stay back in Ekiti after the rally to support their colleague, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is seeking re-election for a second term in office.
Expectedly, the restriction of the governors’ movement drew the condemnation of APC and chieftains of the party, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Senator Bola Tinubu, who warned the federal government against executive impunity and turning the country into a police state.
But the Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) applauded the decision to ground the helicopter that was to be used by Oshiomhole to travel to Ekiti, stating that the governor was in the habit of wasting the state’s resources in leasing aircraft to travel for “jamborees instead of developing his state”.
The military also denied that it ambushed and detained Amaechi at the Ondo-Ekiti boundary to prevent him from entering Ekiti State for the rally.
This is just as the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, yesterday said the police had deployed an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and four police commissioners in Ekiti to supervise security operations for tomorrow’s governorship election in the state.
Amaechi Held in Ondo State
However, the Rivers State Government, in a statement yesterday, disputed the military’s denial, stating that Amaechi was held hostage by soldiers and other federal government security agents at Iju, Ondo State.
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said Amaechi had left Port Harcourt yesterday morning to join his Ekiti State counterpart in the mega rally before tomorrow's election in Ekiti State.
She said in the statement that before Amaechi departed Ondo for Lagos by road: “The Rivers State Government is concerned about the safety of Governor Amaechi who is right now being held hostage in a commando-style by soldiers and federal government security agents in Iju, Ondo state.
“Governor Amaechi as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and as an All Progressives Congress (APC) governor and chieftain of the party had left Port Harcourt this morning for Ekiti State where he was to join his brother governor in his last mega rally before the elections.
“Governor Amaechi was ambushed and refused entry into Ekiti by military personnel acting on orders from above. He made to turn back and return to Akure where his chartered aircraft was parked but was chased by armed soldiers and security personnel in Otutu, Ondo State. According to the captain who led the operation, he had orders not to allow the governor entry or exit.”
Semenitari also said the chartered aircraft that conveyed Amaechi to Akure Airport had been grounded.
“In the meantime, the chartered aircraft that conveyed the governor has been grounded while the Ministers of Defence, Police Affairs and Minister of State for Defence have landed at the Akure airport,” she said.
She said the Rivers State government was especially worried that the federal government and President Goodluck Jonathan had singled out Amaechi for harassment and attack.
Her words: “While we hold the person and Office of the President in utmost regard, we believe that it is unacceptable that the presidency would disrespect the person and office of an elected governor of a federating unit and consistently hound him.
“The Rivers State Government is all the more worried as the Ondo saga is coming on the heels of a plot by six PDP lawmakers this morning to carry out a kangaroo impeachment of the duly elected governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, first at Krisdera Hotels and later Bauchi Street, Port Harcourt.
“Ordinarily, such banality should be ignored as it is neither legal nor constitutional. However, in the light of the recent attempts to hoist a Chief Judge on Rivers people through the back door and the attendant rumours that the reason for that desperate act was to make it easier for the PDP to actualise its sinister dream of ousting Governor Amaechi before May 29, 2015, we believe that it has become necessary to draw the attention of Rivers people, Nigerians and the international community to the situation in Rivers State.”
Semenitari noted that the state chapter of the PDP had Wednesday accused Amaechi of importing terrorists into the state and the region and had demanded that the governor be put under surveillance.
She stated: “The state government wouldn't have dignified the PDP’s display of ignorance with a response but for the fact that these accusations coupled with today’s actions are ominous signs of how far the PDP is willing to go in its quest to cling onto power by all means.
“The antecedents of impunity on the part of the leadership of the PDP are instructive and the party’s desperation to harm and stop anyone they perceive as a major threat to their crumbling electoral fortunes next year is no longer news.
“The detention attempt and incident at the Kano International Airport last week are still fresh in the minds of Nigerians. Also, the call to put Governor Amaechi under surveillance (or is it house arrest?) on the same day that PDP started efforts to unseat the Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, is enough indication of the script already written by a jittery PDP.”
Also, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in Rivers State yesteday threatened to sue the federal government over what it described as the continued harassment of Amaechi.
Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt on the news of the “detention” of Amaechi by soldiers in Ondo State, Chairman of the Rivers State chapter of ALGON, Mr. Oji Ngorfa, said members of the association were shocked and miffed at the prevention of Amaechi from entering Ekiti State.
He stated that the governor, like any other citizen of Nigeria,