Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu, has banned political activities, especially rallies of non-governmental organisations loyal to Governor Rotimi Amaechi and his political rival and supervising Minister of Education Chief Nyesom Wike.
The organisations include the Save Rivers Movement (SRM), the Rivers Leadership Advancement Foundation (RIVLEAF), and the Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI).
While SRM and RIVLEAF are loyal to Amaechi, and believes in the policies of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the GDI, founded and sponsored by Wike, is loyal to the Chief Felix Obuah-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
A statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Mr. Ahmad Kidaya Muhammad, a deputy superintendent of Police (DSP), said the decision to ban political activities of the three groups followed increasing political tension in the state.
The statement however advised that membership drive by political parties should be strictly adhered to as stipulated by the Electoral Act 2000, as amended, as well as in line with the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It reads in part; "The Rivers State Police Command wishes to inform members of the public that as a result of increasing political tension in the state, The Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Police Command, has banned all political rallies in the State under whatever coloration or name.
"Accordingly, all public activities involving rallies of Grassroots Development Initiative (GDI), Save Rivers Movement (SRM), Rivers Leadership Advancement Foundation (RIVLEAF) and whatever other names, are hereby banned.
"Rivers State Police Command will not, I repeat, will not provide security for any group in whatever guise.
Party membership drive is allowed strictly as stipulated in Electoral Act 2010 as amended and INEC regulations, please."
Reacting to the development, SRM rejected the ban on political rallies in the state, saying that the police does not have such power to ban gathering of people in the state.
Chairman of SRM, Charles Aholu said the group will continue to carry out its political activities, in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, pointing that there is already a court order restraining the police from banning political rallies.
Also reacting to the development, the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said the state government would accept the ban as far as it would not be against one set of people.