The Rivers State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has kicked against the clampdown on facilities belonging to some loyalists of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Port Harcourt by the state government.
Nyesom Wike, Rivers State governor and Atiku have been at loggerheads over the latter’s choice of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta State governor as his running mate.
On Friday, security operatives attached to Government House, Port Harcourt, sealed off a lounge, hotel and a petrol station, belonging to three chieftains of the PDP in the state, including a serving member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chinyere Igwe.
About 40 staff and customers who were at the facilities during the time of the operation were arrested by the security operatives.
Igwe and two others, a former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Jones Ogbonda and former PDP chairman in Port Harcourt City local government area, Hon. Ikechi Chinda, are all associates of former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Austin Opara, who is also promoting Atiku presidency in 2023.
Although no reason has been given for the clampdown of the three facilities, located at Elekahia, Eagle Island and Diobu areas of Port Harcourt, but Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, had in a statewide broadcast few days ago, threatened that the state government will seal hotels and other facilities being used as gathering points for suspected political thugs and cultists in the state.
Reacting to the development, the APC in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Friday by its acting Publicity Secretary, Darlington Nwauju, said the opposition party was alarmed at the style of harming businesses in the state as an act of regulation.
The statement reads in part: “May we draw the attention of the State Government and its agents to the provisions of Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which allows for freedom to live and move freely in Rivers State.
“Not even the President is empowered under our constitution to seal up people’s legitimate businesses for whatever reasons.
“Even if a business premises is reasonably suspected to be one that is used for illegitimate purposes, only a Court of law can pronounce the Company or individual guilty. Nobody under the principle of fair hearing can one be a judge in his own matter (nemo judex in causa sua).
“We regrettably recall the illegal demolition of Prudent Hotel, Alode and Etemeteh Hotel, Onne in Eleme LGA in 2020 for allegedly flouting COVID-19 lockdown directives.”