TheNigerialawyer Editorial

The Nigerian Police Force is the organization principally empowered by our laws — Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution and Sections 1,2, 4 and 4 of the Police Act, 2020 to provide security for all law-abiding Nigerians, investigate every form of threat by any person or group and ensure the prosecution of criminal culprits.

The police also serves as the lead security agency for election conduct and is tasked with playing non-partisan roles in the business of elections.

However, despite the clarity of the laws empowering the police and the hallowed responsibilities conferred on it, the Nigerian Police Force has been unable to extricate itself off political entanglements and purge itself from political bias.

In every election cycle, the police often stands criticised for its controversial roles, either for a lack of proactiveness in responding to distress calls or by subtly favouring a particular party or candidate, which is often times the ruling party.

The just concluded State Assembly and Gubernatorial elections which held on the 18th of March, 2023 has again opened another can of worms within the police force, particularly the Lagos State Command given it’s lack of seriousness in combating the genocide-like attack against Igbos in the state and how it casually classified potent threats against a whole tribe as a “joke”.

Lagos state, the commercial capital of the country, a cosmopolitan city which serves as a melting point for different ethnicities and tribes, was one of the states with several recorded and reported cases of violence.

After the declaration of the Presidential election result showed that the Candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi won the state ahead of the State’s former Governor and now President-Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the embers of ethnic strife particularly targeted at Igbos in the state was stirred.

Since then, there has been the repeat of violent tribal rhetoric and threats to Igbos in the State ahead of Saturday’s Governorship election where Labour Party’s Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour is seen as a strong contender to the incumbent Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress.

Few days to the election, the Chairman of Motor Parks and Garages in the State, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo openly threatened the Igbos against voting against the APC on Saturday.

Addressing supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at a meeting, MC Oluomo threatened Igbos who will not vote for the party to stay at home.

“We have begged them. If they don’t want to vote for us, it is not a fight. Tell them, Mama Chukwudi, if you don’t want to vote for us, sit down at home. Sit down at home,” he said.

While the threat by MC Oluomo is undemocratic, barbaric and condemnable, what is found more baffling and irritating, is the casualization of an ethnic slur of that nature by the ]Police who ought to readily step in to apprehend those inciting such violent rein and the foot soldiers who heartlessly executed the instruction.

In a TV appearance, the Police Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi hastily jumped the gun and displayed unprofessional and unbecoming bias for the ruling party and it’s criminal-minded members when he waived the threat off as a joke, informing the public that the police was investigating the video which nobody has disputed, retracted or denied.

Following the massive and unprecedented attack on Igbos last Saturday, it has therefore been made clear that MC Oluomo was not joking and the only joke in this situation is the response from the police. Therefore, one wonders the basis and justification for the Police’ continued hesitance to apprehend MC Oluomo and his cohorts.

What is the funding and conclusion of the police investigation of the video? Is there supposed to be an investigation when the party involved in the infraction has openly taken responsibility for his comments? Is the Police trying surreptitiously to sweep the whole matter which has the propensity to set Lagos ablaze under the carpet? Is such a threat to the fundamental right of movement, relocation, peaceful settlement and freedom to participate in political activity be taken as a joke? Is MC Oluomo a sacred cow with systemic immunity from police investigation and prosecution? Are we going to watch thugs grow in audacity and impunity while state institutions shrink in silence and fear?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a press statement earlier this week stressed that arrest and prosecution of electoral offenders will build confidence while condemning acts of violence that transpired during the election.

Accordingly, if prosecution of offenders brew public confidence, it means a lack of prosecution will lead to loss of confidence in the system which may cause people to resort to self-help thereby leading to uncontrollable breakdown of law and order.

The Police in the face of this blatant violation of our electoral law and daylight assault on our democracy has given rise to questions about the independence of our institutions and the application of rule of law.

It worrisome that MC Oluomo has given clear orders to his foot soldiers to haunt and hurt persons from a particular tribe, and those who should counter and checkmate such are watching by the sidelines.

Again, we ask Is MC Oluomo, a Parks Management Chairman, a sacred cow that can do and undo without any form of repercussion? Is he treated preferentially because his long-time Boss, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been declared President-Elect?

Those who have ignored this open call to violence on Saturday by a member of the ruling APC must understand that no individual or group has monopoly of violence, and when non-state actors like Oluomo are allowed to attack people, the people would be force to act in self-defence and reprisals which will lead to anarchy and total breakdown of law and order in the state.

A stitch in time saves nine, all conflicts are cooked on the pot of provocative utterances. The authorities should immediately arrest MC Oluomo in order to forestall are violent breakdown of law and order in Lagos and Nigeria at large.

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