• Put all Police formations in South East on red alert
By Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian Police yesterday warned that it would deal decisively with members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Biafra Independence Movement (BIM) over their proposed closure of all markets and commercial activities in the South East geo-political zone and part of the South South.
The pro-Biafran agitators recently called for the closure of markets and commercial activities ahead of the 50th Biafra Civil War anniversary.
The release of IBOP leader, Nnamdi Kanu has also increased the euphoria by the agitators in the region who have remained consistent over issues of marginalisation and system neglect, particularly, by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
However, a statement issued in Abuja, Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Moshood Jimoh said the Police would deploy all its strength to deal with any Biafran agitators.
He said: “The attention of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to publications in the media on the planned protests and order of market closure in the South Eastern states on the 30th May, 2017by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Biafra Independence Movement (BIM) and other like groups.
“The Nigeria Police Force is deeply concerned with the security implications with regards to the renewed hostilities and subversive propagandas aimed at undermining law and order in some States of the Federation by these groups, their associates, sponsors, apologists and sympathisers.
“Consequently, the Commissioners of Police in the affected States and their supervising Assistant Inspectors General of Police, have been directed by the Inspector General of Police to be strict, polite, civil and firm in dealing with the situation and put all the Police Personnel and Police Anti-Riot equipment on red alert to deal decisively in accordance with the law with any eventuality from these groups, that can disrupt commercial activities, vehicular movements and safety of lives and properties in some States of the Federation considered to be flash/vulnerable points which have witnessed the unfortunate disturbance of public peace by these groups in the recent past”.
According to Jimoh, “the Force sees the activities of these groups as not only unlawful but highly provocative and capable of causing breach of the peace currently being enjoyed in the South East States and other States of the Federation.
“The planned protests and orders of Market closure and illegal unilateral self-imposed restrictions of vehicular movements by these groups in the affected States should be disregarded by all well-meaning Nigerians.
“The Nigeria Police Force hereby advised the members of the public to go about their lawful duties and other responsibilities without any fear or apprehension as adequate security arrangements have been put in place for the safety of every Nigerian throughout the Country by Nigeria Police Force and other Security agencies.
“The Nigeria Police Force is not unaware of the rights of every Nigerian to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and freedom of movement, as essentials of democracy provided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended particularly sections 38, 39, 40 and 41.
“However, these rights must be observed with decorum, in good faith and without violating the rights of other millions of Nigerians to free movements and access to public/private facilities and their means of livelihood on daily basis.”
He explained that “the Nigeria Police while observing the rights of all Nigerians as stated above is equally conscious of the fact that these rights are not absolute as section 45 of the same Constitution provide for derogations to these rights.
“Consequently, the Police will resist the action(s) of any person or group of persons for whatever course that is against the interest of public defence, public safety, public order, public morality and a threat to the rights and freedom of other Nigerians.
“The Force will continue to Police the Country based on international core values and best practices and operate within the Principles of Democratic Policing but will not succumb and tolerate criminal activities of any group(s) under any guise to cause disturbance of public peace and unleash mayhem on innocent Nigerians anywhere in the country.
“As a result, the Police Force is hereby calling on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Biafran Independence Movement (BIM), the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) to consider the consequences of their actions and activities and without delay and call themselves to order in the interest of National Security, and safety of lives and properties of every Nigerian across the Nation as the full weight of the law will be made to bear on violators of the laws.”
Jimoh stressed that “the Nigeria Police Force will not hesitate to deal decisively with any group(s) and their sponsors that attempt to cause disturbance of the peace or carry out any unlawful demonstration, unlawful assembly/procession or gathering and public disobedience that can jeopardise law and order and harmonious co-existence within and amongst Nigerians throughout the country.
“The fact that freedom of expression as one of the dictates of democracy is being observed by the Police, should not be misconstrued as liberty by any group(s) for sectional or group interest to violate the laws and cause mayhem, confusion and apprehension in the minds of more than about one hundred and seventy Millions Nigerians.
“The Force will continue to carry out its Constitutional duties and other statutory responsibilities in accordance with the law of the land and for the utmost protection of lives and properties of all Nigerians across the Country,” Jimoh maintained.