Police Reads Riot Act To Protesters In Rivers

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Pre-empting a protest by some groups sympathetic to the 22 sacked local council chairmen in Rivers State, the state Police Command has warned that it would not tolerate any attempt to puncture the peace in the state through any act of violence.

The council chairmen were removed by the judgement of a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Giving out the warning on Sunday, the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ezike, said his men would deal with anyone who tries to go violent during such protests.

Speaking on behalf of the State Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Austin Agbonlahor, said some people are planning a protest march in Port Harcourt on Monday over the sacking of the council chairmen but that there could be a possible clash between rival groups during the protest and that this could lead to violence.

Ezike said though it was constitutionally guaranteed for people to embark on a protest, such protests should not impede on the rights of other people.

"The Command is therefore ready to deal decisively with anyone or group that decides to cause any uprising, violent protests, or undertake acts capable of violating or disrupting public peace.

"At the same time, we wish to assure the general public that they should go about their lawful businesses without fear and should report anything seen or heard that could breach public peace and orderliness.

"All should be guided accordingly as we all work to make Rivers State better, peaceful and prosperous.

"Information at the disposal of the Rivers State Police Command indicates plans by unknown individuals to hold a protest march on 13th Monday July 2015 in Port Harcourt Metropolis and other locations in the State against the recent Federal High Court Judgment nullifying the election of the Chairmen of 22 LGAs and the swearing-in of Care-Taker Committees in their stead.

"We are in a democracy, where the Rule of Law and the Right to protest are legitimate rights and aspirations. However, these rights stop where those of the other person begin.

"We acknowledge that though anyone can hold a legitimate and peaceful protest, it is also fair to admit that the protest planners would not be able to control the process as pro and anti-forces, including hoodlums, could hijack it and turn the state into a theatre of violence.​

"On that basis, we are advising that all aggrieved persons should sheath their swords and toe the path of honour by resorting to legal means to seek redress and justice," the Police Commissioner said.