When penultimate Thursday Governor Nyesom Wike arrested 22 ExxonMobil workers who reportedly breached his executive order barring movement into the state, many had looked forward to a real contest of powers between federal and state authorities.
“As a responsive government, we have quarantined them in line with the relevant health protocols, and they will be charged to court,” Governor Wike vowed in a session with newsmen the following Friday.
Cast against the earlier arrest and prosecution of the cabin crew and passengers of a Caverton Helicopter who also breached the same executive order, students of Nigeria’s federalism had looked forward to a possible showdown.The governor said the release of the men followed entreaties by well-meaning Nigerians who intervened to stave off a clash.
However, few would have observed that a day after the arrest of the ExxonMobil staff that the state commissioner of police, Mr. Mustapha Dandaura was replaced by a new commissioner, Mr. Joseph Mukan at the instance of the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed.
Whether it was that or not that pushed Wike to unbend remains a matter of speculation.