There is disquiet in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, following the sealing up of two hotels and a filling station belonging to some politicians by security operatives.
The PUNCH reports that a team of police tactical unit had in a commando style stormed, sealed the facilities, and arrested some members of staff.
The premises sealed are owned by associates of a former deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Austin Opara.
Opara, a former ally to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, is no longer in the latter’s good books for allegedly hobnobbing with the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.
The sealed facilities include Preray Hotel at Eagle Island owned by Ikechi Chinda, Mega Tool Filling Station owned by Hon. Chinyere Igwe, while Priscy’s Lounge is owned by Jones Ogbonda.
Speaking on the development, a member of the House of Representatives whose filling station was sealed, Hon. Chinyere Igwe, described the move as “political persecution by Governor Wike oveer their political difference”.
Igwe said, “It is political. We are allies of Rt. Hon. Austin Opara. And he (Wike) has said that he will fight everybody who is meeting with Atiku, and he has started manifesting it.
“Well, Atiku is the presidential candidate of our great party. The governor is making efforts to meet with Atiku. They are meeting.
“We are all PDP members so I don’t understand why we will become beneficiaries of this kind of humiliation and frustration. It is unfortunate.”
Meanwhile, the state acting Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Darlington Nwauju, condemn the action, saying it was carried out by the task force set up by the state government.
The statement added, “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 businesses 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.
“The outgoing Governor of Rivers State is a senior lawyer and life bencher, he should therefore guide his agents to respect the law.
“The APC in Rivers State however wish to assure the business community, local and foreign investors, that an APC administration in Rivers State shall encourage entrepreneurship, and create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“We urge the business community and investors in Rivers State not to be discouraged but rather pray and wait for a business-friendly regime from our Gubernatorial candidate, Pastor Tonye Cole mni., who understands the body language of businesses locally and internationally.”
When contacted, the state Commissioner of Police, Friday Eboka, said he was not aware of the incident but said he would find out, even as the state government had yet to make any comment on the matter.