Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has alleged that suspected members of the disbanded Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) under the guise of the #EndSARS protest killed six soldiers and four policemen in Rivers.
The governor in a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Media, Kelvin Ebiri, when the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Wike said EndSARS protest was peaceful in Rivers until members of the outlawed IPOB hijacked the demonstration and took laws into their hands.
He said: “I don’t support criminality. IPOB killed six army officers, four policemen, burnt police stations and court buildings. This is Rivers State. Go to Oyigbo and see the level of destruction. Now the State Government will be rebuilding those facilities.
“Those who don’t understand our actions are saying we are fighting the Igbo. How will they allow criminals to speak for them when there are intelligent Igbo people to speak for them?
“If they (IPOB) are aggrieved, instead of channelling it to the right quarters, they go and kill innocent people and destroy public places”.
The governor queried the country’s intelligence system and wondered why it failed to reveal howbrye youths organised themselves for the protest without a leader.
“Now look at what has happened. There was EndSARS protest across the country. Nobody knows how the youths were able to organise themselves without a leader.
“Up until now, intelligence can’t even know how they did it and who’s behind them. Without good intelligence, how can Nigeria even defeat Boko Haram?” he queried.
The governor challenged members of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) to always hold public office holders accountable to the people.
He said that in time past, the Nigerian Press was a strong voice and conscience of the society, but wondered what has whittled down their powers.
He said: “What I have seen of you is that you praise us and give us award because of relationship or friendship. That’s not the way it should be. Challenge us; the people in authority and we will sit up to our responsibilities. We will have no choice than to perform and serve the people as it should be.
“My support for you has to do with the fact that you are supposed to tell the truth of what is happening in Nigeria.
“There was a time you were exposing the ills of society. If not for you certain things will not be known. Assume your role, grow strong again and speak out”.
Wike said that the country was in a difficult period in its history and NGE could not shy away from performing its duties without fear or favour.
“If when I castigated the operations of SARS you added your voice, who knows what good that would have achieved,” he said.
In his speech, the National President of NGE, Mustapha Isha, said Wike had remained consistent in his support to the guild.
He said: “You are the only government that has sponsored our annual conference back to back. Even if we have a new leadership, that will not affect the friendship we share with you.
“Anytime I come to Port Harcourt, there is always a new project on-going. Flyovers are being constructed, existing roads are being expanded, and new roads being built.
“This is your second term and you’re maintaining what you said that you’ll work until the last day of your tenure. You have zeal and passion in handling issues of Rivers state, from covid-19 to issues of security.
“Projects don’t hide, even your political opponents will see them. They may murmur, but they will use them. Your excellency, keep up with your good job”.
The members of the guild later accompanied Wike on project tour of the Rebisi Flyover, Real Madrid Football Academy and the Mother and Child Specialist Hospital.