Governor Nyesom Wike OF Rivers State has warned against giving law enforcement agencies the latitude to abuse the fundamental rights of Nigerians under the guise of fighting corruption.
Delivering a keynote address at the 2016 Annual General Meeting of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK, Nigeria, held in Port Harcourt, on Thursday, he said he was in support of the fight against corruption but added that it must be done within the confines of the law.
“We totally support our president’s fight against corruption. However, we are still a democracy and the rule of law is still supreme.
“We are on our way to anarchy if we encourage or allow law enforcement agencies the latitude to abuse the fundamental rights of our citizens under the guise of fighting corruption,” he said.
The governor claimed that there were two standards in the ongoing fight against corruption, adding, “We also think that the Federal Government must hold every public officer and, indeed, everyone of us to the same standards of accountability.
“It smacks of double standards for the Federal Government to force some public officers accused of corruption to step aside pending the conclusion of their cases, while keeping other public officers similarly accused in their public posts simply because they happen to be top members of the ruling party.
“By resigning from his public positions on account of the allegations of bribery against him, Muiz Banire SAN, the former Legal Adviser of the All Peoples Congress has proven to be a man who loves his character more than anything else.
“Let all those public officers with the smear of corruption step aside honourably and concentrate on clearing their names.”
He accused the police of complicity in the alleged printing of fake election result sheets and other very sensitive materials by some APC chieftains in the state.
“Instead of swiftly investigating and charging the suspects to court, the police high command has forcibly blocked the local police and ordered the matter transferred to the zonal office in Calabar, where it will be deliberately bungled and eventually consigned to the waste bin.
“Our worry is that the recurrent incidents of undue compromises in the election process by INEC and the security agencies generate social tensions, with attendant risk of erupting into physical resistance on election days and consequences for peace, safety and development”, he said.
However, the chairman of the state chapter of APC, Dr Davies Ikanya, admonished Governor Wike to stop interfering in the work of the law enforcement agencies.
This was as he accused the governor of acting with a view to misdirecting, interfering, influencing and muscling police investigations into what played out in Port Harcourt concerning alleged printing of sensitive INEC materials, lasty weekend.
“Whereas APC believes that there is more to the matter than meets the ordinary eyes especially with credible revelations that now support the view that it was a plot by PDP and the Rivers State Government to taint APC and its leaders in Rivers State, we call on the governor of Rivers State, as an interested party, to desist from his ongoing campaign to intimidate the police, twist facts and mislead the public.
“Particularly, APC vehemently rejects attempts by Governor Wike to dictate how Nigeria Police goes about its duties. What the governor said about the ongoing investigation by the police amounts to undue interference and unbridled attempts to force the hands of the police in the direction of the governor’s choosing. We condemn it in its entirety.
“It is the view of APC that the Nigeria Police be allowed by the governor of Rivers State to carry out its investigation the best way possible in line with its established methods. The governor must not needlessly overheat the polity for his own selfish interest”, he said.