Police disrupt posting of new teachers in Port Harcourt •Education ministry didn’t obtain permission - Police
by Bolaji Ogundele -Port Harcourt
THE Rivers State police command, again, was on collision with the state government on Tuesday, as its men dispersed some 13,000 newly employed teachers where they had gone to receive their posting letters.
Trouble started when armed policemen in vans stormed the Liberation Stadium, venue of the posting ceremony and started ordering the people, mostly women, out of the venue.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the police team claimed that the teachers had allegedly gathered to carry out a protest.
Some of the newly employed teachers, caught in the ensuing melee, told the Nigerian Tribune that they were surprised to see the situation turned to cat-and-mouse chase, adding that they were not aware of any planned protest.
A lady, who gave her name as Victoria, denied knowledge of any protest plan, rather, she said she had gone to the stadium to get posted to the school where she was expected to work.
“A woman close by me tried to ask the policemen what was going on, but he said we shouldn’t ask him any question and by the time we got to the gates, we saw several police vans and hundreds of policemen.
“I later learnt that the police said we were suspected to have gathered for a protest. I don’t know of any protest, we were to receive our posting today that was why we went there,” she said.
Reacting to the development, the permanent secretary of the state Ministry of Education, Dr Richard Ofuru, said “it is simply an administrative matter. We didn’t think it was necessary to inform the police.
“Remember, during the interview session in the recruitment process, this stadium was also used because of the number of applicants involved. “We did not inform the police then and we did not have any problem. I do not know why anybody would read meaning to a simple administrative affair. I do not know of any political undertone because there is none.”
The new police spokesman of the state command, Ahmed Muhammad, said the police operation was carried out because the Ministry of Education did not obtain a permit before gathering people at the stadium.
He added that “you will remember that the ban on protest is still in force in the state, but this time round, there was no such thing.
“Their refusal to request for the permit confirmed the security report that they were going on protest.
“They had requested for permits in the past and it was granted, why not this time round?
Meanwhile, the Rivers State government has described the act of the police as “a display of impunity.”
The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs Ibim Semenitari, wondered why both the police and the political opposition in the state were always hanging their actions on the image and person of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Virtually, this is the impunity we have been saying about in Rivers State. And, it is clear to Rivers people that this is the action of retrogressive forces who are totally against development, because, it is the first time any governmentt, whether state or federal, is employing 13,000 teachers at once.
“What is the correlation between the teachers getting their employment letters and President Jonathan? Why do people continually want to drag President Jonathan’s name into everything. Is there something they are telling Rivers people that we don’t know?
“I think this is unacceptable and Rivers people need to fight and ensure that this reign of impunity must stop,” she said.