It is disheartening to read that the Imo State Police Command is keen on frustrating a peaceful protest. This is disheartening because the same Command has never raised any issue with or aborted any Pro-Imo State Government rally.
What is now unfolding, therefore, is a deliberate and calculated abuse of the fundamental right of citizens to associate and express themselves. This should be condemned.
The duty of the Police, during peaceful rally or protest, is to provide security to ensure that the participants in the peaceful rally or protest are not harassed by those opposed to their expression of their views, miscreants and hoodlums. Next, so that the participants do not take the law into their hands.
It is important to note that the instant peaceful rally is not a professional rally but a sit in a place solemn rally which will not bring the participants in contact with those not for the rally. Anyone not interested in the rally or opposed to it has not business going there. Police is needed to ensure that level of discipline and not frustrate the rally.
The Police is to watch the conduct of the participants. If any breaks the law, no doubt, such a person is to be picked by the Police and subjected to the due process of law. This is what the Police is expected to do, and not to concoct unfounded reasons to deny citizens their guaranteed right of association and free expression.
I hereby call on Mr. President, the Inspector General of Police, the Police Service Commission (PSC) and well meaning Nigerians to call on the Commissioner of Police, Imo State not deny these citizens their right to freely assemble and freely express themselves which are constitutionally guaranteed rights.
The organisers should be taken by their words. Their letter and the press release speak for themselves. If they infringe the penal law, they verily know that they are accountable.
Let us grow our democracy. The Nigeria Police Force is not established for those in power only. It exists for all the citizens. It must endeavour to isolate itself from taking side on issues and abusing rights of citizens.
I call for rule of law and justice!
(The Notification Letter to the Commissioner of Police, Imo State and the Press Release by the Group on the reaction of the Commissioner of Police.)
A PRESS STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE IMO PEOPLES ACTION FOR DEMOCRACY (IPAD) AT THE END OF THEIR EMERGENCY MEETING ON THE PLOT TO SCUTTLE THEIR PEACEFUL RALLY BY THE IMO STATE GOVERNMENT USING THE POLICE.
The Imo Peoples Action for Democracy (IPAD) has noted with dismay the plot by the Imo State Government to use the Imo State command of the Nigerian Police to scuttle our peaceful rally scheduled to commence on 18th December 2017 in Owerri.
As a responsible Organization, we had earlier written to both the Nigerian Police and the Department of State Services to inform them of our rally and for them to carry out their constitutional obligation of providing protection for the rally. While the later saw no problem in a peaceful rally, the former could not conform to the provisions of the constitution.
The Imo State command of the Nigerian Police which the public presently perceive as compromised by the Imo State Government, expectedly raised objection to our peaceful rally citing flimsy reasons. After a careful review of the development, we hereby state as follows:
1. That our rally has been planned to be peaceful and non confrontational and cannot be a threat to peace and security in the state.
2. That the 1999 constitution as amended has given us the right to peaceful rally which the police cannot remove.
3. That the police should refrain from being used as a tool to suppress the civil rights of the citizens.
4. That we are perplexed as to why a sponsored pro government group “Rochas Mandate” would be allowed and protected to hold a rally on the 15th of December and then decide to scuttle a peaceful rally of the people.
5. IPAD will continue with her peaceful rally as scheduled on the 18th of December 2017.
6. That the Imo state government and the Imo state command of the Nigerian police should be held responsible if the rally is attacked by paid agents since they have shown strong intent to scuttle the rally.
7. That the Inspector General of the police should immediately call the Commissioner of Police in Imo to order to ensure he respects the right to freedom of assembly in Imo state.
8. That we commend the DSS command in Imo for displaying an uncommon maturity in appreciating and respecting our right to peaceful assembly.
Aku Obidinma Marjorie Ezihe
(Coordinator) (Secretary Org. Committee)