The Rivers State Police Command has explained how the attack on the state governor, Siminalayi Fubara, during a protest at the state’s House of Assembly complex in Port Harcourt on Monday occurred.
The command described the attack as ‘not deliberate’, adding that the intention behind the water cannons and tear gassing was to disperse the protesters and to ensure the protection and safety of the governor from arsonists who were culpable of causing mayhem on the premises.
In a statement by the spokesperson for the state’s command, Grace Iringe-Koko, on Wednesday, it read, “Following the receipt of credible intelligence on the intention of some armed group of persons to cause mayhem in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, particularly at the State House of Assembly on Monday, October 30, and recalling the previous case of arson on the State House of Assembly a day prior which is currently being investigated, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations immediately deployed armed police operatives which he personally supervised in order to intercept the ‘hoodlums’ and ensure the protection of lives and properties within the State House of Assembly facility and its environ.
“At the complex’s entrance, it was observed that youths numbering over a hundred had begun a protest to gain access to the complex and conduct 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 persons approached the entrance of the complex and advanced towards the premises. The police, therefore, engaged them in like manner but observed that the Executive Governor of the State, Siminalayi Fubara, was in their midst.
The police maintained that the presence of the governor at the scene was of great surprise and shock as there was no prior communication to the police on the visit of the governor to the scene of the crime, which ordinarily is the usual protocol and complimentary that we accompany his guard for proper safety considering the intelligence of security threat at hand then.
“In consideration of this, the DC Ops quickly took deliberate security steps to ensure his protection and safety while the Governor and his entourage went on to assess the level of damage caused by the fire incident.
“Thus, it’s 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, which is our most essential role to protect as being peddled in the news. Due to the present situation and the misrepresentation in some sections of the media, it is pertinent to clarify this.
“Similarly, the Rivers State Police Command has emplaced adequate security measures to ensure that the situation de-escalates and total calm is restored in the affected areas,” the statement added.
News correspondent reports that the police shot water cannons and tear gas at the entourage of the governor while on their way to access the premises of the Rivers State House of Assembly Complex, which was reportedly burnt down following a crisis among the state lawmakers.
It was also learned that tear gas was used to disperse some lawmakers and protesters after the governor stormed the complex to prevent his impeachment.
Meanwhile, the governor accused security agencies of bias and “shooting at him directly” amid the ongoing crisis in the state.