Security was beefed up around the residential area of the Federal High Court judge, where there was a failed attempt to arrest a judge yesterday, by security operatives in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
This is even as the state governor, Nyesom Wike, has alleged that he was manhandled by Federal security agencies, early morning of yesterday, when personnel of the Department of State Security (DSS) and Police went to “abduct” the judge residing at Number 35 Forces Avenue in the state capital. Shortly after the incident, which attracted many people, several police patrol vans and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) were positioned opposite the judge’s house, which is close to the DSS office.
Reason for the foiled attempted arrest of the judge and name of the affected judge could not be ascertained at the time of filing this report, as all efforts to get reaction from the DSS failed. Several calls and a text message to the Director of Operations were not replied.
But, when the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Francis Odesanya, was contacted for reaction, he declined knowledge of the manhandling of Governor Wike, saying he was not present when the incident occurred.
Odesanya told Newsmen that he got wind of the development at Number 35 Forces Avenue, Port Harcourt, and went there to mediate.
He said: “I didn’t witness it. I was not there. I think DSS went to effect the arrest of a judge and he (Wike) tried to obstruct them. It was later I got information about it and I went there to mediate.”
Meanwhile, it was gathered that DSS operatives allegedly rough-handled Governor Wike, pushing him around and injuring his hand. A few of the operatives were said to have cocked their rifles and threatened to shoot the governor.
A Government House statement claimed that the security operatives were irked by Governor Wike’s arrival at the scene shortly after the failed abduction process began, adding that Wike received security information on the illegal moves, minutes after the operation started.
The statement further said that security operatives blocked the entrance of the residence of the judge about 1.00 am, claiming that they were acting on orders from above. Addressing newsmen, Governor Wike said: “Not under my watch wiĺl I allow this kind of impunity to take place. That is why we are here. I don’t know which judge they were detailed to abduct. I didn’t bother myself to know which judge. All I am interested in is that, at this level, it is not allowed. “He is not a criminal and he is not an armed robber. If the person has committed an offence, invite him. It is only when he refuses to honour the invitation that you can adopt this commando style.”
He declared that their reckless action portends danger to the nation’s democracy, noting that he was convinced that President Buhari was not aware of the level of impunity being perpetrated by Federal securiy agencies.
Governor Wike, however, said that whatever might be the situation, the rule of law must prevail in a democratic setting. He said if the security agencies had a lawful directive to implement, they must follow due process. “The Commissioner of Police is here, the Director of DSS is here. Their operatives cocked their guns and threatened to shoot me. I have never seen that before. Again, this is to tell you what we are facing. We know that more will come. For us in this state, we shall continue to resist it.”
Governor Wike added: “It doesn’t matter what it will cost. When you talk about liberty, sacrifices must be made. We are not trying to stop an arrest. All we are saying is that things must be done decently and in line with the rule of law. Rivers State is under siege. For you to see a governor out at this time of the day, something is wrong. A siege is an understatement. If this type of thing happens next time, the people wiĺl resist it to the last. They are trying to do something funny in this state, probably to declare a state of emergency.”