A new police Commissioner has been appointed for Rivers State. He is CP Joseph Gobum Mukan. He replaces CP Mustapha Dandaura.
According to a Press Rekease on Friday, 17th April, signed by Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, had ordered the immediate redeployment of Rivers State Police Commissioner, Dandaura Mustapha to be replaced by Joseph Gobum Mukan.
The statement also disclosed that Mustapha Dandaura has been redeployed to a new office as the Commissioner of Police, Provost, Force Headquarters, Abuja, while a third posting confirms Musa Adze as the new Commissioner of Police, Anti-Fraud Unit, FHQ, Abuja.
The statement further noted that IG charged the affected commissioners to diligently and professionally discharge their duties in their new areas of responsibilities while affirming that their posting and redeployment was with immediate effect.
CP Joseph G. Mukan psc(+), who served briefly as Bayelsa State Police Commissioner from November 5 – December 17, 2018, had previously setved as the Commissioner of Police Special Fraud Unit, Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Abuja and was redeployed to Lagos as CP Airport, after his brief stint in Bayelsa. He is a regarded as a disciplinarian and a professional Police officer, having garnered professional experience in various commands and formations over the years.
The appointment of Joseph Gobum Mukan is coming at a time when the Rivers State government is embroiled in serious row with the Federal government, over the activities of Caverton Helicopters and recently, Exxon Mobil, over the breach of operational guidelines initiated by Governor Nyesom Wike following the lockdown of the state and closure of all borders and entry points, to forestall the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
Recall that former Rivers CP Mustapha Dandaura had been chided by the Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, for leading a police team to arrest two caverton Helicopter pilots at the Nigeria Air force Base, which the Minister had described as Federal government premise on which Governor Wike had no right to arrest anybody, especially since the pilots in question were on national assignment and had clearance from the Federal Government.
According to the Minister, “The police that followed the governor to go in there exhibited dangerous ignorance from our perspective in civil aviation. The air force officer who jumped the Commander in Chief (President) also jumped the chief of defense staff, also jumped the chief of air staff and ignored him, to call a governor to come into the property of the federal government of Nigeria to make an arrest, exhibited dangerous ignorance and incompetence grossly.”
The arrest of the pilots working with Caverton Helicopters Ltd, had been ordered by Governor Wike and executed by CP Dandaura, after they flew a helicopter into the Rivers state with some unidentified allegedly foreign passengers, in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown and the directive of the state government which had earlier barred vehicles and flights from entering the State.
The pilots were subsequently arraigned at a magistrate court and remanded in prison until May, but were released on bail, a few days later pending the commencement of their trial, even as Gov Wike had declared Caverton Helicopters Ltd Persona non grata in Rivers state and ordered all their offices to be shut down by the Local government chairmen of the areas where they operated.
Governor Wike however claimed in his most recent press briefing that Caverton Helicopters Ltd had apologized to the state government and so all appeared to be well
But just hours before CP Dandaura’s redeployment was announced, the Rivers State governor had disclosed in the same Press conference, that 22 ExxonMobil oil workers who came into Rivers through Akwa Ibom State, had been arrested, quarantined and are likely to face trial for violating the border closure directive of the state government which bars vehicles and flights from entering Rivers to prevent the spread coronavirus into the state.
The oil workers, who drove in a convoy, with police protection, were on their way to work in an oil facility in Intel, Port Harcourt, on Thursday, 16th April, when they were apprehended in a border town between Rivers and Akwa Ibom by CP Dandaura accompanied by a military commander.
The hint of a possible legal action was given by Governor Wike who stated clearly at the Press briefing that: “Even though security agencies advised that they be allowed to go back to Akwa Ibom State, I insisted that the law must take its course. This is because nobody is above the law.”
Wike noted that the state government could not ascertain the health status of the arrested Mobil employees and as a responsive government, but have quarantined them in line with the relevant health protocols and they will be charged to court.
“We will fight this matter legally. ExxonMobil does not operate in Rivers State. That they have a point at the Onne seaport does not mean that they operate in Rivers State,” Wike said.
CP Dandaura’s redeployment may not be unconnected with the intention of the Rivers State government to prosecute the Oil workers, who he had apprehended, in spite of the fact that the were with military escort and also had legal permit from the Federal government, to travel and handed over to the Rivers State government to be quarantined, an action which aviation Minister Hadi Sirika had previously described in the Caverton Helicopters case as “dangerous incompetence and gross ignorance”
The decision of the Police IG to axe Dandaura had come despite the best efforts of the Rivers police to put the matter in perspective by stating that the oil workers had not been arrested but had been taken in for screening to ascertain their Covid-19 status before they would be allowed to proceed into the state.
A statement by the Rivers State police spokesperson, Nnamdi Omoni, on Friday disclosed that: “The CP (the commissioner of police Dandaura) and other service commanders went on an inspection tour of all the border points. When we got to the Ogoni axis we saw these people (the Mobil workers), they wanted to come in. They showed us a letter but that was not the issue; the issue was that they were not screened. The people were taken from that border post to the screening centre at the Elekaya Stadium.
“They are still being screened (for coronavirus). Nobody arrested them,” Omoni declared.
The petroleum and natural gas workers association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN had weighed in by claiming that the Exxon Mobil oil workers did not violate any law and should, therefore, be released.
“It is appalling that Rivers State authorities have turned the global effort to tame COVID-19 to a tool of muscle-flexing and petty oppression of oilfield workers,” the association said.
Prior to this, the Trade Union Congress, TUC, had threatened to embark on strike in Rivers State, if the Caverton Helicopter pilots were not released, but Governor Wike had scoffed at their threat to strike and called their bluff, warning that Rivers State was not the kind of state that would be intimidated or cowed by the threat of industrial action, insisting that the law must take it’s course.
CP Danduara is obviously the first major casualty in this muscle flexing face-off between the Rivers Governor and the Federal Government and though it is expected that he must have been given very clear briefing and instructions from his boss on his assignment in Rivers State, the new CP Joseph Gabum Mukan, will certainly have his work cut out for him as he interacts with a very determined Governor Nyesom Wike amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic situation in the state.