By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Leaders and members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State Thursday trooped out in their hundreds to protest the alleged police manhandling of the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, saying that police brutality and partisanship have no place in a democracy.
Led by the state chairman of the party, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, and other members of the party’s state working committee (SWC), the protesters marched through some major streets in Umuahia, the state capital, singing solidarity songs.
They also carried placards expressing their grievances with the police. Some of the placards read: “We say no to police brutality”; “Police, don’t stir the hornet’s nest”; and “Don’t kill our democracy”, among others.
Speaking with journalists after the protest march, Chief Onuigbo vehemently condemned the action of the police in Ekiti State, noting that the state governor and his deputy have constitutionally guaranteed immunity which should be respected by the police.
He said that the ruling party in Abia State was in solidarity with their Ekiti State counterpart, which is also a PDP state, adding that “what affects Ekiti affects all of us”.
Onuigbo said that if the police continue doing the bidding of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), they would undermine the nation’s democracy, adding that the election in Ekiti State would serve as a litmus test for the 2019 general election.
He later handed over a protest letter to the Inspector General of Police (IG) through the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi. In the protest letter, the Abia PDP condemned the “sordid act of police attack, brutality, humiliation and dehumanization of law-abiding party faithful in Ekiti State”.
“We are touched by the bravado and over-zealousness of your men in executing this sacrilegious degradation of the exalted office of the executive governor of a state, a man seating on the prodigious and collective mandate of the people of Ekiti State,” letter read.
“We feel sad that the Nigeria police which is one of the security agencies of the state charged with protection of lives of Nigerians has allowed itself to degenerate to be used as instrument for perpetuation of autocracy and budding tyranny,” it further said.
Onuigbo urged the IG Ibrahim Idris to use his good office “to halt this inexorable march towards the democratic abyss, aided by the police”, warning that “should anything untoward happen to our long nurtured democracy, we shall not hesitate to hold the police accountable”.
Nonetheless, the Abia PDP chairman called on the people of Ekiti State not to be deterred by the obvious intimidation by the police.
He charged the electorate to shame the police and all the anti-democratic forces by coming out en masse on Saturday to exercise their freedom to elect their leaders, adding that they should also be ready to defend their votes.