Rivers State is yet again providing another textbook case of the politicization of security and the use of security agencies to achieve political ends.
The Obio Akpor local government council of the state this week gave a quit notice to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) to vacate its purpose-built office complex in one month. Rivers governor Nyesom Wike hails from the council.
- The complex was donated to the squad by former Gov. Amaechi in 2012.
- The local council sent a letter on October 18, 2017, through its legal adviser, Victor Wokem, addressed to the F-SARS commander, Akin Fakorede.
- Letter said: “I am directed by the Local Government Council to give you one month notice to vacate and deliver up possession of the premises/property of the Obio/Akpor International Market, which you presently occupy, as a licensee thereof, on or before 30th day of November 2017.”
- The directive was reportedly to enable the council “carry out major renovation works at the international market and to put the said property, which you occupy, into full use and purpose for which it was originally acquired and built.”
The back story:
The F-SARS commander is reportedly not sympathetic to the PDP led government in the state. There are reports that during the legislative re-run elections in the state last December, the squad refused to align itself with the interests of the governor and the PDP.
F-SARS reply: The commander, Fakorede, has responded to the quit notice in a letter of his own:
- “I wish to respectfully inform your good office that the Rivers State F-SARS is not in possession or occupation of any premises/property of Obio/Akpor Local Government.”
- He said, “the F-SARS is presently occupying a purpose-built police facility, constructed for the police and officially handed over to the F-SARS, Rivers State on August 23, 2012 by the Rivers State Government, under RT. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, then Governor of Rivers State.”
- He advised the council to “desist from making false claims.”
Meanwhile, the war continues:
The Rivers government has requested that Pres. Buhari and the police authorities transfer Fakorede out of the state.
- Information commissioner, Emma Okah, said at a press conference that Fakorede was taking sides with the All Progressives Congress (APC).
- He accused the F-SARS of committing a lot of atrocities.
- Okah: “Rivers State government is not after the person of Mr Akin Fakorede, but the odious methods he employs in doing his job and the consequences.”
The APC Response: Through its Rivers State Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, the APC said:
- The “attack” against the F-SARS by the state government was political and had everything to do with the 2019 elections.
- “This is one of the clearest evidence of the war of attrition being waged by Wike and his government against the F-SARS in Rivers State. It is a development foretold by discerning minds.”
- Denied that the APC is in bed with the F-SARS: “APC has no special relationship with SARS or any security agency in the colour being painted by Wike and the PDP in Rivers State. We are happy that the Rivers State government and PDP in Rivers State have come out to unveil the real reasons they are battling SARS and its Commander, Akin Fakorede. They have spelt it out that it is all about 2019.”
This must feel like Déjà Vu for the people of Rivers. In the buildup to the 2015 elections, the most notorious police officer in the country was Joseph Mbu, who at the time was commissioner of police in Rivers. His apparent sympathy with the then PDP central government and clashes with former Gov. Rotimi Amaechi dominated several news cycles at the time. Mbu quickly lost relevance following the victory of the APC in 2015.