Patience Jonathan, Murder and the Rivers State Crisis

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It is not every day we get to hear of notable members of the public take a swipe at the countries First Lady, but in this case we see the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, been accused of getting away with murder in the country and of being used as a political tool, with the tacit support of her husband.

Making this allegation Thursday during an international press conference on the state of the nation, Nigeria’s Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, who alongside human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), pointedly identified the first lady as being neck deep in the political crisis in Rivers State, added that her “seizure of Port Harcourt for 11 days with full security apparatus in tow, indicated that there is something about that madam herself.”

Falana and Soyinka condemned the crisis that had engulfed the Rivers State House of Assembly, when five out the 32 lawmakers attempted to impeach the speaker, Hon. Otelemaba Amachree.

Soyinka described the entire scenario as reflective of meddlesomeness and decried Mrs. Jonathan’s involvement in the crisis in the state, pointing out that she has no constitutional role in the country.

“This is getting to a state where an unelected person, a mere domestic appendage, can seize control of a place for 11 days and as a result of her presence, the governor of that state was told by policemen that you cannot pass here because the queen was there. What sort of jungle are we living in?

“A person with no constitutional position is able to enjoy the full security apparatus of the state which is being denied a governor,” he said.

He said his advice for the first lady was to be a lady before being a “first lady”.

“My worry for her is that she should be a lady first before being a first lady. You cannot be a first lady without first being a lady. That is the only advice I have for her,” he said.

Soyinka, who also accused the president of involvement in the political crisis in Rivers State, warned that if anything happened to the state Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, the blame would be put on the president’s door step.
“Vicarious responsibility must be laid at the door of President Jonathan if anything happens to Governor Amaechi. Ultimately, the responsibility is the president’s,” he said.

He maintained that contrary to denials that the residence of the governor (Government House, Port Harcourt) was not tear-gassed, it was actually tear-gassed on Wednesday when the Joint Task Force and the police were called in to disperse clashing rival supporters of the state assembly members.

“I read in the papers today (Thursday) that no tear gas was thrown into government premises. Let me tell you categorically that the government premises was tear-gassed.

“I had a running commentary about what was happening with a junior colleague who was at the governor’s lodge at that time.

“There was a siege on the governor’s lodge and he was tear-gassed. Anyone who said tear gas was not thrown into Amaechi’s lodge, is either ignorant or a liar,” Soyinka said.

He warned that the events unfolding in Rivers State were worse than the Boko Haram menace, saying: “We are sitting down here pretending that nothing has happened, pretending that Boko Haram is serious; it is all we have to cope with but the ground under us is being eroded.”

Falana, who was obviously unaware that the president had issued a statement on the Rivers State crisis Thursday, also described the situation as “infamy endorsed by the president”, stressing that Jonathan’s silence was an endorsement of the ugly situation in the state.

He queried why the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had debunked the allegation from China while the president was silent of the situation in the state.

He hinted that necessary action was being taken to address the anomaly constitutionally.

He urged the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to urgently enforce the Code of Conduct for the police and that the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Joseph Mbu, be dismissed and charged with contempt of court, subversion of the rule of law, and should be sanctioned accordingly.


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