13th October, 2010
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has strongly condemned the role of the police in the ongoing political persecution of Senator J.J. Akpanudoedehe of Akwa Ibom State, saying the gross partisanship and lack of professionalism exhibited by the police in the case do not augur well for the 2011 general elections.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it is very glaring and painfully obvious to all that the reason Senator Akpanudoedehe is being constantly threatened with prosecution over a phantom murder case is to stifle political opposition in the state and decimate all opposition to equally culpable Governor Godswill Akpabio.
It said the only reason that Senator Akpanudoedehe is being hounded by the Governor, ably assisted by the state Police Commissioner and the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), is that he has decided to, in line with the rights guaranteed him and other citizens by the Constitution, decamped from the PDP to ACN.
ACN said it is very saddening that Acting IGP Hafiz Ringim has allowed the police under him to be used by Governor Akpabio to settle political score in Akwa Ibom State.
”The neutrality and professionalism of the security agencies are indispensable in providing a peaceful atmosphere and ensuring a level playing field for all candidates during the 2011 general elections. But the emerging scenario in Akwa Ibom, where a murder case of which he has been cleared has become a Sword of Damocles on Senator Akpanudoedehe, is a bad omen for the elections.
”Apparently, Acting IGP Ringim does not subscribe to the consistent pledge by his boss, the President, that all efforts will be made by his administration to ensure a successful election next year. If he (Ringim) does, he would not have denied the Senator the request he made for police protection to enable him travel from Abuja to Akwa Ibom to attend the decamping ceremony on October 16th 2010. It is noteworthy that such requests have been granted the Senator in the past by Ringim’s predecessors.
”Had Ringim subscribed to the President’s assurance that the security agencies will be neutral before, during and after next year’s election, he would not have threatened not to give police protection to the Senator or threatened to charge the Senator to court in Uyo Wednesday, October 13th, for the June 2010 murder of PaulÂ Inyang, even though nothing incriminating was found on him during the two weeks he (Senator) was unjustly incarcerated by the police after the murder.
”Whatever happens, Ringim should know that the Akwa Ibom case is a test case for his ability or otherwise to lead his men and women to provide a conducive atmosphere for the forthcoming elections; and for the police to ensure that every citizen’s rights as guaranteed by the Constitution are respected, whether or not that citizen belongs to the ruling party or the opposition,” ACN said.
The party warned that democracy cannot thrive when people are being hounded by the police just because of their political leanings, when a power-hungry governor can use the police to stifle opposition and when the freedom to associate is wilfully truncated by the police.
ACN urged the Acting IGP to ensure that the event scheduled by the ACN for Saturday in Uyo is allowed to hold, and that Senator Akpanudoedehe is not prevented from attending on the basis of a phantom murder case that is nothing but a tool in the hands of Governor Akpabio to silence all opposition.
”Anything short of that will be an early signal that the police under Acting IGP Ringim cannot be trusted to protect the rights of all citizens who are not members of the ruling party, and this will be sad for the IGP as well as the nation,” the party said.