Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State says his administration will not be distracted in its determination to defend the interest of the big oil and gas state, and transform all parts with the available resources.
He is accordingly calling on the peoples of the state to remain vigilant and ensure that they do not play into the hands of those he termed ‘’detractors’’.
Wike has announced that his administration is setting up a Judicial Panel of Inquiry to investigate the brutality and human rights abuses of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the state.
While announcing this on Tuesday in a state-wide broadcast, Governor Wike said Rivers initially declined to set up another panel of inquiry as directed by the National Council of States but changed the position because of new facts and evidences on ground.
“We were the first state in this country to expose the cruelties of SARS and challenged the Federal Government to rein in on this evil force but nothing happened.
“We went further to set up a judicial panel of inquiry which indicted operatives of the much dreaded SARS for acts of criminal misconduct, murder and gross human rights abuse.
“The findings and recommendations of the judicial panel of inquiry were submitted to the relevant federal authorities, including the Police High Command, but nothing was done.
“Instead of support, we were accused of playing politics and the Chibuike Amaechi-led faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) even organised a demonstration in support of the atrocities of SARS against the people.
“What is true is that, by God’s grace, Rivers has in a long while been secure and peaceful under our watch as we continue to strive and deliver on our commitments to the people”, the governor said.
He notes that despite the olive branch extended to the opposition, intelligence report shows that the Amaechi-led faction of APC based in Abuja is capitalising on the opportunity created by EndSARS protest to destabilise the prevailing peace and progress in the state.
According to him, one of the beneficiaries of the nolle prosequi in favour of all those who had criminal processes in courts, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree led hired thugs from neighbouring states into Port Harcourt to cause mayhem under the guise of supporting “Pro-SARS protests.
The protest, he said, which was against the overwhelming mood of the nation defines Amaechi’s predilection for violence to achieve political goals.
“We are not surprised because these characters are the very ones that used SARS in the recent past to intimidate, maim and kill our people, including the late Dr. Ferry Gberegbe.
“This action was intended to provoke the peace-loving people of the state to needless violence and destruction. We commend the people of the state for their peaceful disposition and for refusing to be provoked by these miscreants and their spineless sponsors.
‘’We also commend the security agencies for ensuring that nothing untoward happened throughout today’s ill-intended protest.
“At this point, it is important to remind Ojukaye Flag-Amachree and his fellow criminal travellers that nolle prosequi is not an acquittal. The government will not hesitate to re-instate criminal proceedings against them if they continue with their predispositions to violence and criminal misconduct.
“Rivers is peaceful and we cannot allow any misguided person or group to exploit the current situation to disturb the peace and endanger our collective security’’, Governor Wike said.
The governor also announced that a reformed and disciplined Taskforce on Illegal Street Trading and Motor Parks would soon be set up to restore sanity to the streets.