Commercial activities in Port Harcourt were at a low ebb on Monday following the political crisis rocking the state since Sunday night.
The crisis centred on an impeachment plot initiated against the state governor, Siminalayi Fubara, by twenty-four members of the Rivers State House of Assembly. The lawmakers commenced the impeachment proceedings on Monday. A section of the assembly complex was razed on Sunday night by hoodlums believed to be political thugs aversed to the leaked impeachment plot.
Checks showed that the tensed situation in the state affected commercial activities in Port Harcourt in particular as many traders decided not to go to market while those who managed to go treaded cautiously because of heightened security alert and the tension in the city.
It was gathered that in a bid to maintain law and order and forestall any politically-motivated security breach, more security operatives were detailed to police checkpoints and strategic junctions in the city, with the Azikiwe-Station Road axis where the Government House is situated witnessing a higher security presence.
Over 17 police vans and four armoured personnel carriers (APCs) have been stationed around Government House and Assembly Complex which happen to be the hot spots of the crisis, exposing motorists, passengers and those going to Government House or coming out of there to increased surveillance and search.
The development also resulted in many traders avoiding the popular Creek Road Market at Borokiri in the old Port Harcourt Township.
The heightened security surveillance and search also slowed down traffic, leading to hold-ups on some busy roads.
A petty trader, Nkechi, complained that the slow traffic made her to spend more time on the road than before, resulting in her returning late from the market.
She told BusinessDay: “I used to go to market around 8 in the morning and return before 12. But today now, because of the holdup, I came back around 2pm. Market was even scanty, some of my customers did not come. They said their road was blocked.”
Checks further revealed that bread was a bit scarce on Monday morning as some bread sellers did not see it to buy. On inquiry, it was gathered that the bread sold on Monday morning in many parts of the city were leftovers from the weekend.
Coupled with the hike in petrol, this sudden political crisis in Rivers appears to have increased the stress of residents of the State who, like their counterparts in other parts of the country, have been struggling to survive the excruciating hardship imposed by the petrol subsidy removal.
Meanwhile, amidst impeachment proceedings initiated against him by the Rivers State House of Assembly, Rivers State Governor Siminalayi Fubara, has vowed to resist any action against him that is not justified.
He spoke on Monday at the Government House gate shortly after inspecting the relics of the hallowed chambers of the State House of Assembly that hoodlums burned on Sunday night.
Fubara said: “Whatever it is that wants to happen, let it happen. If Siminalayi Fubara is impeached, I’m not the first, neither will I be the last.
But what is important is, any attempt that is not justified will be resisted.”
The governor challenged the impeachment plotters to tell Rivers people the offence he committed deserved impeachment, assuring Rivers people of his administration’s resolve to protect and offer them dividends of democracy.
“Let them come out and tell Rivers people that offence I have committed. That is what I want. Come out and tell the people of Rivers State that the offence that Fubara committed warrants impeachment.
“But my happiness this morning is, that the people of Rivers State, represented by every one of you here, is with us. I can go home and sleep. Let me assure you, people, that we will continue to defend you people. We will protect you people, and you will enjoy the dividends of democracy,” he said.