Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State has inaugurated a nine-man commission of inquiry to look into the politically motivated killings in the state in the build-up to the general elections.
The commission of inquiry is headed by the well-respected Chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, while Sir Samuel Egbe has been appointed as the Secretary of the body.
Other members of the panel are Prof Nlerum Okogbule, Prof. Owunari Georgewill, Dr. Richard Ofuru, Mrs. Asivosuo Oriye, Dr. Joy Ejiofor, Mrs. Ayo Obe, and Rev. Father Michael Akiri as members.
The governor had, during a stakeholders’ meeting, vowed to inaugurate such commission to ensure that those involved in the politically-motivated killings in the state would not go unpunished.
Speaking on Thursday during the inauguration at Government House, Port Harcourt, Amaechi congratulated the members and added that the commission has 30 days to come up with its findings.
The governor pointed out that the reason for setting up the commission was to investigate why the victims were killed, who killed them, under what circumstances, adding that the commission was expected to make recommendations that would assist government forestall future occurrences.
He said, “When I visited Obirikom in the Ogba/Egbeme/Ndoni Local Government Area, in the house hold of one late Chief Christopher Adube, nine persons were killed by assassins.
“Those killed were his three children, his younger brother, two gatemen, and two other persons while two of the late Chief Adube’s children are still receiving treatment in an undisclosed hospital.
“There was a day I was arguing with the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State now posted to Enugu and I said, ‘commissioner, I am told 11 persons have been killed’, he said, ‘no, only seven persons’.
“Again, in the same Omoku, whether it is seven or 11 persons, these are human lives. At Okrika, when APC went on campaign, where the governorship candidate of APC was seated, he would have been hit by a bullet, but, God saved him; he had left that place earlier. That was the first day APC went for campaign in Okirika, and the police were present.
“I was driving to my village on March 28 for the presidential election, I saw a corpse at the median of the road, I called the Commissioner of Police, ‘Mr. Karma, I have seen a corpse here, please, look for a way to take away the corpse and find out who did this’, but, he did not.
“Whether the corpse is still there or not, I have no idea. When I got to the village called Omuanwa on that Election Day, young boys were shooting sporadically at innocent people and when they saw us, they ran into the bush. Then I came down and met somebody they have shot that was severely injured. We put him in a vehicle and rushed him to the hospital”.
Gov. Amaechi, however, insisted that those behind the killings were allowed to unleash mayhem because of the existence of impunity in the state, just as he called on the commission to recommend appropriate punishment for the offenders.
He added, “The reasons why the killings happen was because of impunity in the state. Total impunity. I believe as a governor, if you don’t punish those who break the law, then human beings will no longer be protected.
“People were not allowed to carry out their civic obligation and responsibilities just because they (politicians) were desperate to take over power. There will be threats, but your duty as a commission is to overcome these threats.
“First, you must be under the custody of the state and we will inform the Commissioner of Police to provide adequate security for them (members of the commission) to discharge their duties uninterrupted”.