Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has warned operatives of the State Task Force on Street Trading, Illegal Markets and Motor Parks against attempting to illegally influence the decisions of the mobile courts.
Addressing members of the Task Force at the Government House Port Harcourt on Saturday, Gov Wike said that the operatives of the Task Force have 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.”
Governor Wike decried the dwindling performance of operatives of the Task Force, saying that they must improve their performance.
‘Events have shown that 70 percent 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”, he said.
The Governor said that if the operatives of the Task Force fail to improve, he will be compelled to 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. Luckily, this is a Task Force. We even thought we will employ you as civil servants, but with the way you are going, that will be difficult.”
Governor Wike warned members of the Task Force against extorting monies from traders, bus and taxi drivers.
“The traders know that you extort monies from them. The drivers know that you extort monies from them. Before, everywhere was clear. The traffic flowed freely. But now, there are challenges.
As you go to GU Ake Road, there is an illegal taxi park. Traders have come to the road. They now sell all manner of things on the road”, he said.