Nigerian Police And Opposition States


October 24, 2014.


By: Joe Onwukeme

The clamour for the creation of state police by state governors and civil society groups wouldn’t have been an issue in recent years if the centralized police have not been involved in partisan politics.

The fear that governors may hijack and convert state police into personal security outfits used for intimidating political opponents and enemies of the state governments is now being played out at the centre where police takes orders directly from the centre to witch hunt the state governments in the opposition.

The situation whereby states Commissioners of Police do not take orders from their various state governors even on security issues that may require urgent attention has resulted in conflicts and crises in some states. Mostly politically motivated, this conflicts and crises are witnessed in states controlled by the opposition and has widened the divide between the opposition and ruling government.

The disruption of Bring Back Our Girls rally in May this year on the orders of the police and the aborted ban of the group by our own controversial AIG Joseph Mbu in Abuja is one out of too many examples.

The unending crisis at the Edo State house of assembly resurfaced again on Saturday, 11th October, 2014, with allegations that an intelligence report of an impending attack on the State legislative quarters was ignored by the Edo State police commissioner.

The Edo State Government had accused the police of withdrawing the few police men on duty at the legislative quarters giving maximum time for an attack on APC lawmakers and their family members by suspected hoodlums alleged to be working for the PDP.

The desecration of the State High Courts in Rivers and Ekiti States coupled with attacks on a Judge and court workers in Ekiti State, last month by suspected thugs allegedly working on the orders of Governor Ayodele Fayose, while the police men deployed within the Court premises looked away uninterested and unconcerned is also another clear example of  high handedness by the security agencies.

The 12 months reign of the controversial self acclaimed “Lion of Port Harcourt”, AIG Joseph Mbu as the Commissioner of Police Rivers State, witnessed series of political tension and upheavals for which the police were indicted for engaging in partisan politics in the State. There were similar cases in Nasarawa and Adamawa State respectively.

The police have over the years been involved in partisan politics with anarchy being unleashed on the political system and the opposition is crying foul over the use of security agencies to settle political squabbles.

The need to insulate the police from partisan politics should be given urgent attention and state governors should not just be Chief Security Officers of their states on paper, they should have a say when it comes to security issues in their states.

The primary responsibility of the police all over the world is to protect lives and properties of all its citizens independently not a selected few.

To be in opposition government is not a crime, it is the fun of democracy. Republicans and Democrats in America always have issues but the ruling Democratic Party does not line up state security apparatus to intimidate the opposition. The much publicised Obama doctrine is working and it is enough tools to weaken the opposition in America.

The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), does not need to line up state security apparatus to subdue the opposition as doing that gives the opposition an edge over the ruling government and even when they don’t proffer reasonable alternatives or criticisms to government policies, they get all the attention, sympathy and popularity.

My advice to the PDP Jonathan led Federal Government is; Use your performance and silence them. The highest weapon for subduing the opposition in a democracy is “performance”.

As the 2015 general election approaches, let’s not be carried away by campaign promises and provision of stomach infrastructure, rather let’s insist and focus more on manifestos and debates by these politicians. The ones that can convince us with realistic solutions for our hydra headed problems should have our votes irrespective of sentiments.

Joe Onwukeme: An Idealist wrote from Enugu

[email protected]