Amaechi, CP Mbu Tussle: Rivers Attorney General Warns State Police Commissioner To Watch His Tongue
Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Hon. Worgu Boms State has called on the embattled Commissioner of Police in River State, Mbu Joseph Mbu, to act within the law, discharge his responsibilities within the precepts of law and not allow himself be used by political forces against the state and the Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice spoke in Port Harcourt on Wednesday. He bemoaned CP Mbu’s utterances and conduct which he said could lead to anarchy and decried his ban on street processions.
Boms said the Police Commissioner had no legal power to ban protests, explaining that the Public Order Act authorizes only the state Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to grant permission for any street procession.
“The Commissioner of Police is a Commissioner of Police and not a lawmaker or a law interpreter – functions that statutorily and constitutionally belong to the Parliament and the Judiciary, respectively. The Commissioner of Police is only a law enforcer and no more. Yet, being neither a lawmaker nor a law interpreter, he (Mbu) has continued to act in both capacities through his speeches and conduct all of which have combined to signpost a preference for anarchy in place of observance and maintenance of law and order for which the Police are established and for which he was employed. The Commissioner of Police declared, on May 24th, or thereabouts, that he has banned all type of Procession in the state and has, through many press statements, insisted that his word is final.
“For the avoidance of doubt and for the information of the public, the Commissioner of Police has no such powers to ban any type of procession nor does any citizen need to apply to him for permission or authorization to engage in any type of protest or procession. Ours is a Society founded on and governed by law. The Commissioner of Police, curiously, did not inform the public under what law he derived his power to ban processions. The Public is hereby informed that there is a law that regulates public processions. That law, known as The Public Order Act, does not ban public procession; neither does it obligate any citizen to apply to the Police before embarking on any procession.
“Indeed, it is the Governor of the State, in this case, The Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, CON, Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, that the Public Order Act authorises and empowers, in its Section 1, to direct the conduct of all assemblies, meetings and processions on the public roads, or places of public resorts in the state. The Act also empowers the Governor, not the Commissioner of Police or anyone for that matter, but, I repeat, the Governor, to prescribe the route by which and the times at which any procession may pass.
“The Act provides that you apply, not to the Commissioner of Police, but to the Governor, 48 hours prior, if you desire to embark on a procession and if His Excellency is pleased that the procession will not cause a breach of the peace, he shall direct any superior police officer to issue the license and he can also decline. The Governor may delegate this authority of issuance of licence to the Commissioner of Police. As the Attorney General of the state, I confirm to you that His Excellency has not delegated any such power to the state Commissioner of Police.
“Even when his Excellency does delegate such power, the law further provides that any citizen who applied for and was refused the licence by the Commissioner of Police, acting in his delegated capacity, such a refused applicant can appeal to His Excellency, the Governor, and that the Governor can overrule such decision and that the Governor’s decision on the matter is final”, Hon. Boms said.
According to him, CP Mbu acted outside the law when he banned street processions and warned him against making Rivers State a police state and place of lawlessness.
“The claim, as the commissioner is now informing the Rivers State public and the world, that he banned public procession, is very unfortunate as it paints the picture to the public and the world that we are still in the Dark Age. Luckily, we are not and no attempt to bring us to that Dark Age will succeed. The public is hereby informed, that as our law stands, the claim of the Commissioner of Police that he has banned public procession is ultra vires his powers as not even the Governor, his boss, can ban public procession. It is the decision of individuals or groups to express their feelings through procession and they should take care not to commit any crime in course of exercise as the law will not exculpate any who commits crime whilst processing.
“What is clear, therefore, is that neither Parliament nor the Court empowers the Commissioner of Police in the state, to ban procession or request or demand the holding of a permit by citizens before they embark on a procession. This mental state of mind, with all due respect, of a requirement for permit before procession, is a throwback to the inglorious days of military dictatorship from which society has since moved away and to continue to allow that state of mind will provide the fertile ground for our continued descent to a police state. The Police should even guide and guard processions and only interfere when crime is committed or likely to be committed in the guise of a procession”, he added.
He therefore called on CP Mbu to perform his duties without being biased, noting that Governor Amaechi wants his full cooperation to enable him continue to achieve good result for all Rivers people.
Boms said: “The office of the Commissioner of Police which all should respect and which I sincerely respect is vested with great powers for the maintenance of law and order, the detection and prevention of crime and the securing of lives and property amongst others. It is therefore, my prayers, that the dignity of that office and its crucial role to our society under God, should never be impaired by the absence of sincere efforts on the part of the police to function without political and other bias.
“The work of the Commissioner of Police and how that work is now being performed in Rivers State at this crucial and trying times of transition politics, is equally crucial and indeed, very close to the centre of the attainment of our socio-economic purposes as a state since nothing can be achieved in a state of high impunity from the Police as we are now witnessing”.
He urged the police chief not to use his men to break the law and ridicule the judiciary and faulted his refusal to ask his men to vacate the Obio/Akpor Council Secretariat in total disregard of a court ruling which asked the police to vacate the council premises.
He said: “Let me be very clear here and in one particular respect that the office of the Attorney General is more interested in governance accordance to law than in politics of lawlessness; in particular, that law and order and the justice system should not be ridiculed or trampled upon as the Commissioner of Police is brazenly demonstrating. The consequences of such approach to policing are grave for us all.
“I therefore strongly remind the Commissioner that the Police as a unit, was established to serve the people in sincerity within the law and not to lend itself for use by a section of agitating politicians or group to undermine law and order as the continued closure of the Obio/Akpor council secretariat in contempt of a court order has continued to suggest; nor is the Police established to undermine the governance of the state”.
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