CENTRE FOR CIVIC EDUCATION
(a.k.a Transition Monitoring Group)
Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar
Reminiscent of the dark days of military rule in Nigeria, respect for fundamental human rights and freedom of association has finally taken a back seat in the PDP led administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Sadly, the police have become a ready and veritable tool in the hands of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) regime’s brazen violation of citizens’ rights across the country.
The frequency of the police assault on the right to assemble is rising with no end in sight. On October 23, a rally organised by the Anti-Corruption Network to protest the scandal of
N255 million bulletproof cars bought for the Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah was forcibly broken up and the Convener of the event, Mr. Dino Melaye, and 28 other members of Civil Society Groups were arrested by the Police.
About a week earlier, a group of concerned Nigerians and students were prevented from presenting a protest letter to the leadership of the National Assembly over the four-month old strike by University lecturers. Similarly, police violently dispersed the peaceful assembly and protest by University dons of ASUU in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
By the same token, lecturers and students were tear-gassed as they gathered at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State for a peaceful rally. In Ondo State, two separate peaceful rallies by ASUU at the Federal University of Technology, Akure and at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba were disrupted by well-armed police teams.
And at the University of Lagos, Akoka, police lay siege and barricaded the Institution’s main gate to frustrate a planned demonstration by students from various Institutions against the continued mishandling of the ASUU strike by the Federal Government. Even Primary School pupils were tear-gassed by police in Makurdi, Benue State, as they marched to protest the continued closure of their schools by teachers’ strike.
And in a brazen show of shame last Sunday, November 3, 2013, the Police apparently acting on orders from the presidency disrupted a meeting of the G-7 Governors in Abuja. Again on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 the Police barred Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State from going into the Port-Harcourt International Airport to receive his guests. It is instructive that Governor Amaechi who reportedly has been having a running battle with the President’s wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, is also one of the G-7 Governors, a group of serving PDP Governors supposedly dissatisfied and disenchanted by the affairs and politics of their Party (PDP).
It is a known fact that since the faceoff between the G-7 Governors and the ruling PDP, the Governors and their supporters has been subject of increased harassment by the Police and other State Security Operatives; the Nigerian people are witnesses to these molestations which is also increasing tension in the land.
TMG considers these actions as reprehensible and a depiction of high level impunity and crudity in a modern day democratic society. TMG strongly believes that there can be no half measure practice of democracy; Nigeria is either a full-fledged democracy in which all citizens enjoy freedom and liberty to move about and organise in a peaceful manner or it is purely fascist.
As the build-up to the 2015 election gathers momentum, TMG is worried about the growing culture of impunity and the unnecessary heating up of the polity which has the potential to snowball into widespread insecurity. If the Governors who are the Chief Executives and Chief Security Officers of their respective States can be so harassed and hounded, what lifeline is there for the ordinary citizens of the land?
Therefore, TMG calls on elected and appointed government officials at all levels to exercise maturity and be more tolerant of criticisms and opposition so as to safeguard our hard earned civil rule, and for all to live in peace and harmony in a more secured environment.
We call on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar to as a matter of urgent national importance address the widening gap between policing and our hard-earned democracy, particularly with the sad commentary coming out of Rivers State and the high-level recklessness and insubordination on the part of the Police in the State. TMG strongly believes that uniformed institutions and the personnel that constitute them must be subjected to the global dictates of civilian authority in a democracy.
Finally, we appeal to the Nigerian Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies across the country to remain alive to their responsibilities of protecting lives and properties; and to be fair and considerate in relating with fellow citizens on issues of security no matter how lowly or highly placed. The police must desist from further acts capable of portraying that revered institution as an agency of impunity and citizens’ harassment.
God bless Nigeria.
Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi
Chief Eddy Ezurike
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