By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Police authorities in Bayelsa Saturday met with political parties in the state, against the backdrop of the coming local government and governorship elections, warning that any politician caught aiding violence would face the law.
Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr Uche Anozia, who initiated the engagement assured the politicians under the umbrella of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) that the security agencies will remain neutral and non-partisan in the discharge of their duties.
He warned politicians who are in the habit of sponsoring hoodlums to cause mayhem and snatch or burn ballot papers to reconsider their strategy, noting that he was prepared to ensure a violence-free poll.
While bemoaning the activities of criminals in Bayelsa, Anozia said anybody who recruits any jobless youth for any activity outside what the law permits, would be prosecuted.
“ If you get these youths to do anything outside the law , it will not be tolerated. The law will take its course if there is any infraction. When laws are obeyed there is peace. When there is lawlessness , the society ends in chaos.
“So, this meeting is to draw your attention to these issues. Do not arm anybody because these arms are not used for hunting animals , but against fellow human beings. When that happens, you break he law.
“The election is around the corner. Have confidence in the police who will provide security during the exercise. Our doors are open. You can call me at any time. Do not say it is too late to call me. My phone is always by my side.You must play by the rules. No ballot box snatching. That will not be tolerated. It shouldn’t happen” the police chief said.
According to him, it is not in the interest of the state or the political parties to engage in any act capable of breaching the peace or engage in activities that would project the state in bad light to the rest of the world.
“Almost always, our elections have been characterised by bickering, thuggery, inter-party disputes and all forms of violence. I crave your indulgence to ensure that you don’t engage in anything outside the law in the election at hand. All the time this occurs.
“ There are things that are outside the realm of morality. You know the difference between good and bad. For the short period I have been here, many youths here prefer engaging in crimes and so there is also the tendency for politicians to engage these young people” he added.
In their contributions, the IPAC, comprising chairpersons of political parties in the state, urged the police to ensure neutrality and refuse to be compromised during the election.
They also called on the police to ensure that officers sent to the field are properly mobilised by the force to avoid being compromised, stressing that the police must also ensure that their personnel are withdrawn from politicians before the day of voting.