MEMBERS of the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) were in Port Harcourt on Monday to meet with the Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike.
Their visit followed the growing insecurity triggered by the hijack of the #EndSARS protests by hoodlums suspected by security agencies as members of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
NEF’s Chairman Prof. Ango Abdullahi led members of the group who came to assess the conditions of northerners living in the state after the #EndSARS violence.
The meeting took place at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
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In the delegation were former House of Representatives Speaker Ghali Umar Na’Abba; defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) presidential candidate Bashir Othman Tofa; Hakeem Baba Ahmed and Gen. Saleh Maina.
A statement by Wike’s Special Assistant on Media Kelvin Ebiri said the governor assured his guests to always conduct the affairs of the government in a manner that would protect the interest of all residents in the state.
The governor commended the elders for their fact-finding visit and vowed to keep discharging his primary responsibility of protecting lives and properties.
Wike was quoted as saying that it was sad that people would do the wrong things and dubiously tie any effort made to correct them to politics and ethnic bias to deepen the divide among Nigerians.
The statement reads: “The #EndSARS protest was very peaceful in Rivers State. Oyigbo Local Government Area is one of the biggest in terms of population in the state.
“Miscreants woke up one morning because people are doing #EndSARS protest and began to kill innocent people. They burnt down police stations, killed police officers and soldiers and destroyed courts.
“When you say what you have done is wrong, we can’t allow it, they say you’re against a particular ethnic group. How can that be? That action almost led to a big violence between this group and that group. I am the governor of the state, how can I allow my state to be a centre of war? That can’t happen.
“Nobody can sack anybody here. Everybody has the right to live in the state. But no group can say it is their own place. I won’t allow that. We also have Rivers people who are living outside. So, I can assure you that I will not do anything that will not be fair to any ethnic group.”
Wike said he earlier raised the alarm against the danger of insecurity after cultists killed over 100 persons on a Christmas Eve in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni Local government Area of the state.
Lamenting that the Federal Government reduced the issue to politics, Wike noted that insecurity was ravaging every state of the federation.
The governor also recalled how FSARS brutality against the people was allegedly ignored by the federal authority.
He said although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued a report that indicted the FSARS commander in the state, instead of addressing the issues, the erring officer was rewarded and promoted.