Respite is returning to parts of Port Harcourt following the lifting of curfew imposed on some towns such as Diobu and Oil Mill, but Oyigbo, where youths burnt down three police facilities and allegedly killed soldiers and police, has witnessed harsher clampdown.
Gov Nyesom Wike who lifted the curfew in a late-night broadcast said Ikokwu Spare Parts Market remains shut but curfew lifted there. The market just reopened after many weeks of shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
This is as media workers are part of those under frequent arrest and torture in Oyigbo even soon after the ones of Diobu received respite. Security image-makers have stayed away from the plight of media workers so far.
The governor said with the restoration of normalcy in the Diobu area of Port Harcourt, he was encouraged to announce the lifting of curfew on Mile 1, Mile 2, Iloabuchi, Emenike and Ikokwu areas of Port Harcourt as well as Rumukurushi in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the State.
“However, the curfew in Oyigbo Local Government Area shall remain in force until further notice while the entire Ikokwu motor spare market shall remain closed, also, until further notice,” he said.
The governor said he has gazetted the ban on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) from operating in any part of Rivers State. So far, most residents of Oyigbo have fled the area while hints of army spreading to Iriebe, Elelenwo and other nearby areas in search of suspected IPOB members are rife.
The governor who directed the Rivers State Civil Service Commission to take immediate steps to employ 5,000 youths into teaching and other career positions in the State’s Civil Service as an immediate measure to reduce the level of youth unemployment, announced return of road task force. He said he would soon set up a task force to enforce the ban on illegal street trading and motor parks along public roads. But, in the interim, he has approved the ban on the operations of tricycles (popularly known as “Keke NAPEP”) on all major roads in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
The major roads are: Aggrey road, Dame Patience Jonathan road, Eastern Bypass road, Ikwerre road, Aba road, Agip road, Ada George road, Olu Obasanjo road, Rumuokwuta – Rumuola road, Rumuepirikom – Rumuolumeni (leading to Ignatius Ajuru University of Education) road, Rumuokwuta – Choba road, Chief G.U. Eke road, Peter Odili road, Ken Saro-Wiwa road, Nkpogu road, Trans-Amadi road, Elekahia – Rumuomasi road, Yakubu Gowon road, and Woji – Elelenwo road.
Meanwhile, the Rivers Civil Society Organizations demanded the reconstitution of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) on the activities of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Rivers State.
The chairman, Enefaa Georgewill, who commended the governor for constituting the panel said the governor had earlier refused to do so on ground that the one he sometime set up was not honoured by the FG.
The CSO coalition pointed areas of fault thus; No inclusion of the key groups that carried out the protests in Port Harcourt as directed by the presidency; ‘The Rivers State Government did not follow the federal government directives on the numbers and category of persons that ought to be in the JPI. For example; The Rivers State JPI has one Civil Society representative instead of two as directed by the Federal Government.
“The Rivers State JPI does not have a representative from the Human Right Commission and the student committee as expressly directed by the Federal Government.”
He said the FG directed that the inquiry should be on all police but that the Rivers panel is asked to probe only SARS. “Most members of the Rivers State Judicial Panel of Inquiry are individuals who enjoy very close relationship with the Rivers State Government and the ruling party in the State, as such the outcome of the JPI may not be neutral or meet public expectation. To ensure openness, accessibility and transparency, we demand that the Governor reconstitute or expand membership of the JPI.
The CSOs said their peaceful protest ended on Tuesday October 20, 2020 and thus urged the Commissioner of Police to arrest and prosecute all those he called criminals, thugs, brigands and arsonist who on Wednesday,21/10/20 went about destroying private and public properties in the State for no just cause.
“We specifically condemn the burning of police stations and attack on great officers of the Nigeria Police