Rivers Crisis: Police deny deliberate attempt to tear gas Gov Fubara


The Police in Rivers State have denied claims that its personnel deliberately attacked Governor Siminalayi Fubara during his visit to the state House of Assembly complex in Port Harcourt.

Fubara alleged that some policemen shot, tear-gassed and used water cannons on him and his aides while on his way to assess the arsonist-damaged state parliament building on Monday.

A video trending on social media also confirmed the governor’s claims, drawing wide condemnation from Nigerians across the country.

Reacting, the Spokesperson for the Police Command in Rivers, SP Grace Iringe-Koko, denied the alleged deliberate attack on the governor in a statement on Wednesday.

She said the anti-protest policemen deployed to secure the state House of Assembly from further attacks were unaware that the governor was among the crowd approaching the facility.


Iringe-Koko said, “Following the receipt of credible intelligence on the intention of some armed group of persons to cause mayhem, particularly at the House of Assembly, armed police operatives were deployed.

“Also, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations (DC Ops) deployed the operatives based on the previous case of arson on the assembly building.

“The DC Ops personally supervised (the police operatives) to intercept the ‘hoodlums’ and ensure the protection of lives and properties within the assembly facility and its environs.

Iringe-Koko said during the operation, that protesting youths numbering over 100 stationed at the entrance of the assembly complex conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace.

“This led to the Police deploying non-lethal crowd control equipment, including tear gas and water cannons to disperse the riotous and uncontrollable protesters.

“However, some minutes later, another aggressive group of people approached the entrance of the complex and advanced toward the premises.

“The Police, therefore, engaged them in a like manner but observed the Governor Siminalayi of Rivers State was in their midst.

“The presence of the governor at the scene was of great surprise and shock as there was no prior communication to the Police on his visit to the scene (assembly building),” she stated.

Iringe-Koko said the usual protocol for any governor visiting a crisis area was to inform the Police ahead to enable the command accompany and provide the governor with the needed security.

She said upon realising the governor was among the crowd of persons approaching the assembly building, the DC Ops immediately ordered his men to stand down and give the governor access.

“To this end, the governor and his entourage went inside the assembly complex to assess the level of damage caused by the fire incident.

“It is pertinent to state that the Police did not deliberately attack the governor, or even attempt to hurt anyone, let alone the chief executive and security officer of the state.

“It is our most essential role to protect the governor, and, as such, the news being peddled in some section of the media is a misrepresentation.

In another development, Iringe-Koko confirmed the arrest of 122 suspects over alleged invasion of the official residence of the former Speaker of the House of Assembly in Rivers, Martins Amaewhule.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Amaewhule was on Monday impeached as the Speaker of the state House of Assembly by 26 lawmakers and replaced by Ehie Edison, representing Ahoada East II constituency.

The police spokesperson alleged that the protesters led by one Chijioke Ihunwo on Wednesday forcefully gained entrance into the former speaker’s residence at Forces Avenue, Old GRA in Port Harcourt.

“The youths damaged the gate of the house and while they were carrying out their nefarious activities, a distress call was put across to the control room of the command.

“Thereafter, our tactical team was immediately deployed to the scene where 122 suspects including Ihunwo were arrested and taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID).

“Consequently, we have placed adequate security at the State of Assembly complex; the Speaker’s residence and other strategic locations and infrastructure to forestall any ugly incident,” she stated.

Iringe-Koko said the Commissioner of Police, CP Nwony Emeka, had urged residents to go about their lawful duties as security measures have been put in place to de-escalate and restore normalcy.

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