By Segun Odeleye
As far as the crisis in Rivers is concerned, Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka is not sitting on the fence. His voice has been loud and consistent in the last few months, hitting and condemning the Rivers police commissioner for his disregard for the rule of law.
At an event celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela, which took place in Osogbo, the Osun capital, Soyinka also took a swipe at President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing him of “looking elsewhere for the smoke in the plane” while “the fire is right on his own roof at Aso Villa.” He said that something must be done to put off the fire before it becomes unstoppable.”
Soyinka said that the likes of the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu, are not required in peaceful states like Rivers, Osun and Lagos, adding that “people who are so tough, so unbeatable and untouchable should be sent to Maiduguri to go and confront the greatest menace the country is facing now (the Boko Haram).”
“Since Mbu is such a tough cop that is so powerful and mighty that he can steamroll over the democratic process of this nation and to show how tough he is, I recommend to Jonathan that he should be sent to Maiduguri to go and show his powers there with Boko Haram”, he said.
Soyinka said he was ashamed to be a citizen of a country where a police commissioner could act with impunity and opened fire on unarmed people who were exercising their fundamental human rights as upheld by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
He described as “more shameful” that “there has not been any reaction from Aso Rock Villa on the ugly incident as at date.”
Mbu said he ordered his men to smash a rally last Sunday by a non- governmental organisation in Port Harcourt because the rally was not permitted by him.
Soyinka insisted that people do not require a police permit to meet and that the police are obliged to provide protection for people meeting peacefully.
He remarked that if Nelson Mandela had been at the head of Nigeria, “any policeman or law enforcement officer who fires even a rubber bullet at innocent people – I am not even talking about a senator or politician or opposition – innocent people harmlessly holding a meeting and any officer be it soldier, policeman, vigilante who intrudes in such a meeting with violence using state’s power or the people’s armoury to injure or traumatise the citizens, such an individual would be in jail now, however highly placed”.
Soyinka advised President Jonathan to quickly call Mbu to order before he wreaks havoc on the democratic process.
The Nobel laureate pointed out that what is happening in Rivers State is not an affair of the state alone but that which concerns every Nigerian.
He reminded Mbu of the existence and jurisdiction of the International Court of Crimes Against Humanity adding, “I want to tell Mbu that one of these days, he would find himself in front of that criminal court and he would go and keep company with Charles Taylor and the killers in Rwanda”.