Sunday, December 22, 2019 4:27 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, for the second time in less than two months, has warned members of the State Task Force on Street Trading, Illegal Markets and Motor Parks against veering off from their core mandate and getting involved in illegal duties.
This time around he specifically warned members against meddling in the judicial arm of government by attempting to illegally influence the decisions of the Mobile Courts attached to the task force.
The Governor at a meeting with members of the task force at the Government House in Port Harcourt on Saturday, emphasised that they had no power to interfere with the work of Magistrates attached to the Mobile courts.
He said, “I don’t want to hear these negative reports again. You have no right to direct the magistrates on what they should do. Nobody has given you power to talk to the Magistrates.
“Your duty is to arrest people and take them to the magistrates. It is left for the court to decide the matter based on the law. It is not for you to tell the magistrates what to do. You don’t have that power.”
The Governor continued, “Events have shown that 70 per cent of you are doing things that are not right. You now allow illegal street traders to operate and you collect money.
“In some instances, you allow illegal motor parks to exist on our roads. That was not the case when you started operations. You must remember that nobody can be rich overnight.
“You have no right to open an account anywhere. If I decide to send you people home, you will start complaining. Several people are interested in carrying out these responsibilities.”
Governor Wike, however, expressed sadness over the attitude of some of the officials of the task force and warned that if they failed to improve, he would take punitive measures against them.
He said, “This is the final time I will call you for a meeting. By the time I go round again and there is no improvement in your operations, I will send all of you packing.
“Even if you have worked towards the end of the month, I will not pay you. I will simply tell you to take whatever you have collected as part of your salary.
“People commended you when you started. But you are now engaged in some illegal activities. There are other people who are willing to work and I will not hesitate to engage fresh hands.’ands
Wike, on 20 October 20, threatened to sack the Task Force if reports of extortion and compromise by members continue.
Addressing members of the Task Force at the Government House, Port Harcourt on that day,(Sunday Evening, October 20) ,Wike regretted that the operatives have compromised in some locations, negatively affecting their performance.
He said that the Task Force, through reduced performance has allowed street traders to return to Mile One, Air Force Junction, Rumuokoro and Agip areas of the state capital. He however praised the team operating in Garrison.
He said: “If the productivity of the Task Force continues to go down by tomorrow, I will dissolve the Task Force. We will not tolerate a situation where the progress we have made is reversed.”
Wike warned the operatives against acts of extortion , saying that they must focus on their official responsibility.
He said: “All acts of extortion must stop forthwith. Any operative found wanting in this regard will be sanctioned. There is no reason why you should receive bribes from defaulters.”