2015 And Police Harassment

Editorial

Editorial

As we approach the 2015 general elections, there are ominous signs that the police might be used to harass members of the opposition parties and politicians who disagree with the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP-led Federal Government. This has been clearly demonstrated repeatedly in recent times in Rivers State where the police are not giving Governor Rotimi Amaechi any breathing space, and in Abuja, where the police have been disrupting the meetings of the new PDP governors and other leaders of the breakaway faction of the ruling party.

Acting on an order he claimed he got from Aso Rock, a Divisional Police Officer, CSP Nnana Ama, on Sunday stormed the venue of a meeting of the G-7 governors, Senators, some House of Representatives members and other leaders of the breakaway PDP, and tried to disrupt it. While justifying the invasion, Ama claimed that the police were on routine check.

A week earlier, precisely on 27 October, 2013, the G-7 governors’ meeting was invaded by armed policemen who forcefully dislodged the governors from the Sokoto Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, venue of the meeting. Apart from disrupting the G-7 governors’ meetings, the police have also been used to prevent the governors from opening their new secretariat.

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, has suffered the worst form of harassment as a sitting governor by the police since he fell out with Patience, President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife. The Aso Rock wing headed by Patience has used the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mbu, to intimidate and make the state ungovernable for Amaechi. His police aides have all been withdrawn at the behest of Aso Rock while the harassment was once taken to a ridiculous length when one of the entrances into the Government House in Port Harcourt was blocked by policemen posted there without the governor’s knowledge.

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Again, Mbu mobilised his men to disrupt a gathering of teachers in Port Harcourt. The teachers had gone to collect their employment letters when the police stormed the venue. Thinking the thousands of teachers had gathered to protest against President Jonathan in the heat of the disagreement between Governor Amaechi and Patience Jonathan, Mbu deployed his men to disperse the teachers.

These are abhorrent acts of brazen intimidation and harassment that portend grave danger ahead of the 2015 general elections. They are worrying signs that the police could be used to subvert the will of the people in 2015 or even rig the election in favour of the ruling PDP.

President Goodluck Jonathan should realise that what the police are doing is clearly an attack on the constitutionally guaranteed rights of association and freedom of movement of Nigerians.

This brazen police partisanship should stop forthwith or else it will send a wrong signal that their action is in pursuit of the self-serving political interest of the man who is pulling the strings behind the scene in Aso Rock. It will be a tragedy of unimaginable proportions if the police are used to truncate the hard-earned democracy in the country.