The Governor of Rivers State, Barrister Nyesom Wike, on Tuesday banned protests by “some unauthorised group” calling for the release of the director of a pirate radio station, Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu.
The Southeast and Southsouth parts of Nigeria have in recent days witnessed massive protests by separatists calling for the creation of Biafra and the release of their leader in detention.
In a state broadcast following protests by pro-Biafra groups in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, Mr. Wike banned all forms of street protests, demonstrations, rallies or unlawful gatherings associated with the agitations for the secession of any group from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“For the second time within a month individuals and groups purporting to represent the indigenous people of Biafra have held unauthorized protests on the streets in Port Harcourt.
“Majority of these individuals have come from neighbouring states and in the course of these protests, disrupted social and economic activities, damaged properties, assaulted and inflicted injuries on other citizens going about their lawful endeavors.
“While individuals and groups are free to exercise their freedom of expression, they must do so peacefully and strictly within the bounds of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“No individual or group has the right, whatsoever, to disturb public peace and order, threaten the safety of the public and create fear and an atmosphere of insecurity in the state or any part thereof.
“The right of any group of persons to agitate for their perceived rights cannot be allowed to infringe on the rights of other Nigerians, especially the people of Rivers State to remain an integral component of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Our government was elected on a mandate, and has sworn to an oath, to defend the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore, the Rivers State Government will not fold its arms and allow members of the indigenous people of Biafra or any other group to turn the State or any part thereof into a hotbed of unlawful protests against the unity and peaceful co-existence of the various peoples and ethnic groups within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Consequently, after due consultations with the members of the State Security Council, and in exercise of my constitutional responsibility to preserve the safety, security and corporate integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is hereby ordered that all forms of street protests, demonstrations, rallies or unlawful gatherings associated with the agitations for the secession of any group from the Federal Republic of Nigeria are banned in Rivers State.
“Any person or group who violates this ban or acts in any manner prejudicial to the interest of peace and security would be arrested and prosecuted.
“While we commend the security agencies for their maturity in handling the situation foisted on us, I call on the people and residents of Rivers State to be more vigilant and report any further activities that threaten public peace, order, safety and security to any of the law enforcement agencies for immediate action.
“Finally, let no one be in doubt of the resolve of the Rivers State Government and the security agencies to maintain law and order at all cost within the State and preserve the unity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Thank you. God bless Rivers State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, Governor Wike said in the broadcast.