Ernest Chinwo Rivers State chapters of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and the Police Service Commission to explain the continued stay of the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mbu, despite repeated calls for his redeployment.
This is as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) warned Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to leave them alone and not to drag students into the political crises. The unions also expressed dissatisfaction over the continued closure of the Obio/Akpor Local Government Secretariat by the Police despite a court order for the security men to end their siege there.
In a statement jointly signed by the State Chairmen of NLC, Chris Oruge, and the TUC, Chika Onuegbu, yesterday in Port Harcourt, the unions vowed to embark on an indefinite strike if nothing was done to address the issues raised.
They also sought to know why Mbu has remained as the state Police Commissioner despite repeated calls for his redeployment, insisting that he should go to avert imminent industrial disharmony in the state.
While condemning the recent dispersing of newly employed teachers who had gathered at the Elekahia Stadium to receive their letters of posting, the unions said they were yet to get any reason for the action of the Police.
The statement read, "Organised Labour has watched keenly, the activities of the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu since he was posted to Rivers State. "It would be recalled that Mr. Mbu has continued to the Obio/Akpor Secretariat despite a subsisting Court order that the police should vacate the council and allow the workers unrestricted access to their workplace.
"The organised labour view the action of Mr. Mbu as a direct challenge to a competent order of Court and an invitation to anarchy in Rivers State.
"Our attention has also been drawn to Mr. Mbu's reckless and unwarranted attack against the newly recruited 13,000 public school teachers by the Rivers State Government "Organised Labour is yet to recover any reason for this reckless, uncivilised and barbaric action of Mr. Mbu against the teachers who are our member because they automatically belong to the Nigeria Union of Teachers.
"Consequently, the organised labour in Rivers State demand an unreserved apology from Mbu Joseph Mbu and the Inspector General of Police who has continued to keep him despite repeated calls for his redeployment.
"We hereby demand that Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu be redeployed forthwith to avert imminent industrial disharmony in Rivers State.
"We hereby give a 21-day ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police and indeed the Police Service Commission to address the issues raised expeditiously. In the alternative, the organised labour will embark on an indefinite strike."
NANS also threatened to sue the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for the lingering strike, saying that the action had been politicised and it did not protect students' interests. President of NANS, Comrade Yinka Gbadebo, stated this on yesterday after the association's Senate meeting held at the University of Port Harcourt, Choba.
Gbadebo accused the governor of paying the Deputy Senate President of NANS, Comrade John Shema, who was the convener, and made him to abscond. He called on Amaechi to leave NANS alone, as the body was not a political group. "The attention of NANS leadership has been drawn to unsavoury attempts by the Executive Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, on his desperate efforts polarising the united leadership of our noble organisation, the National Association of Nigerian Students. "It is no longer news that the Rivers State governor, having been misinformed by agent provocateurs and swindlers, has agreed as part of his political travails to throw our dear organisation into chaos.
"If we may ask, what does Governor Amaechi need NANS for? Is NANS an extension of Nigerian Governors' Forum, which he led and successfully polarised, or, the Peoples Democratic Party that he has elected to factionalise?
"As a responsible organisation, it is on record that the leadership of NANS has since the beginning of the political crisis in Rivers State restrained her members from either commenting or taking sides in the self-orchestrated crisis in Rivers State.
"Every attempt by agents of the Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi-led government to drag the leadership of NANS, particularly the NANS President, to the side with Governor Amaechi, has been rebuffed to our vowed belief that the crisis is a political ego trip that has now degenerated into an incurable.
"We wish to inform the people of Rivers State and the generality of Nigerians that the purported project tour of Rivers State by NwwANS is nothing but a grand fraud initiated by Mr. Daniel Onijeh, brought by hawks in Governor Amaechi's government, fraudulently sold to the governor by his trusted aides, paid for with the tax payers' money of the Rivers people amounting to N4.5 million out of which N1.5 million doled to cultists to kidnap and eliminate the NANS President."
The leadership of NANS rebuffed a recent sponsored media statement issued by Comrade Shema, declaring their support for the governor, saying that it was intended to discredit President Goodluck Jonathan.
The NANS president pointed out that Shema lacked the power to speak for NANS leadership.
"Having rebuffed several overtures made to the NANS President," the students accused the governor of finding "an ally in the Deputy Senate of NANS, Comrade John Shema of Benue State University, Makurdi, to do the hatchet job."
Consequently, the association had expelled Shema for acts of gross misconduct, abuse of power, issuance of unauthorised statements, rape and others, and declared him wanted.
They also expelled Comrade Onije, a former NANS President, and declared him persona non-grata, for extortion and abetting Shema to dent the image of NANS.