The Rivers State Government has condemned attacks on former Governor of the state, Dr. Peter Odili and his family following the Supreme Court judgment that nullified the election of Mr. David Lyon as winner of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State. Odili’s wife, Justice Mary Odili, headed a five-man panel of the Supreme Court that nullified the victory of Lyon and the All Progressives Congress (APC) on February 13.
The state government accused the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva and the National Chairman of the APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, of sponsoring the attacks on Odili and members of his family. But in a swift reaction, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Yekini Nabena, accused Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of being behind the protest at the Abuja residence of Justice Odili
In a statement yesterday by the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim, issued after the state Executive Council meeting, the state government expressed concern that the federal government did not show interest in what it described as sponsored threats to the lives of the Odilis. Nsirim said: “The Rivers State Executive Council condemns the barricading of the residence of Dr. Peter Odili at Maitama, Abuja by sponsored thugs of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
The state wondered why Odili’s family should be singled out for “the unwarranted attack when the judgment that ousted David Lyon as governor of Bayelsa State was a unanimous decision of a five-member panel of Supreme Court justices.” The statement added: “That the Rivers State Executive Council warns the Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva and the National Chairman of APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole and their hired agents to desist from the sponsorship of violent attacks against Dr. Peter Odili and members of his family.
“That the Rivers State Government will hold Timipre Sylva and Adams Oshiomhole responsible if anything happens to Dr. Peter Odili and members of his family.” It noted that Rivers State has suffered unfavourable judicial pronouncements and never resorted to self-help as allegedly being promoted by APC leaders. It warned that the Rivers State Government would employ all legal means to protect the Odilis. The statement added that the state would protect all Rivers State indigenes serving as federal and state judicial officers. “The Rivers State Government warns that should this harassment and intimidation continue, it will have no alternative than to retaliate. That the Rivers State Government will defend the lives and property of Rivers people at all times. Enough is enough,” it stated.
However, refuting the allegations against the APC, Nabena accused Wike and the PDP of sponsoring the protest at the Abuja residence of Justice Odili. Nabena told journalists in Abuja that the opposition party sponsored protesters who identified themselves as “APC Supporters,” stressing that it was a decoy to portray Lyon and his APC supporters in bad light.
He stated: “Nobody should be fooled by the usual antics of the PDP. Resort to extra-judicial tactics such as maligning the judiciary and its officials is the PDP’s stock-in-trade. The same hired urchins the PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus has used for his protests to the embassies of the UK, US and the European Union were used for Tuesday’s protests at Justice Odili’s residence.
Meanwhile, Lyon has said that some mischief-makers are cashing in on his silence to disrupt law and order in Bayelsa State. Lyon, in a statement yesterday stated that he would not support or be engaged in any act of violence following the outcome of the apex court judgment. He added that the mischief-makers are using the situation to express their grievances, causing avoidable circumstances in the state.
“As a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria, I would never support or direct anyone to be engaged in acts inimical to the progress and wellbeing of the same people I seek to govern. Some mischief-makers have seized on the opportunity of my silence to perpetrate all kinds of evil intentions and actions in the guise of expressing their grievances and have created unnecessary and avoidable circumstances in the political history of our state and country.”
Lyon added that his thoughts and actions have never wavered from the fact that the court is the last hope of the common man. He said since the Supreme Court judgment, he has been preoccupied with exploring all legal processes in addressing the incident.
He called on all political leaders, irrespective of party affiliations, to call their supporters to order and urged them to be calm and law-abiding. He expressed his faith and confidence in the judicial process and the Supreme Court, in particular, noting that “at the end of the day, justice will be done to himself and the good people of Bayelsa State.”