The Rivers State Police Command has warned against any violent protest based on the ruling by the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, sacking 22 local government chairmen from office.
State Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, who said this in Port Harcourt on Sunday, cautioned that the command would not hesitate to deal with any person or group planning to carry our an uprising capable of disrupting public peace in the state.
Ezike disclosed that information reaching the command had it that unknown persons were planning to hold a protest march in the state capital and other locations on Monday as a result of the removal of council chairmen by the court.
Speaking through the State Deputy Commissioner of Police, Austin Agbonlahor, he also revealed that there were plans by another group to counter such protest, warning that such a situation could lead to a confrontation by the two groups if allowed to happen.
The police commissioner added, “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.”
The commissioner of police noted that though the law allows the people the right to embark on protests, such freedom should not be abused by turning the state into a theatre of violence.
Ezike said, “Information at the disposal of the Rivers State Police Command indicates plans by unknown individuals to hold a Protest March on Monday 13, 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.”