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Rivers politics: Police occupation of LGAs Illegal – legal practitioner

Mass transfers: Afolabi appeals to IGP to consider police couples>

A Legal practitioner and a social critics,
Mr. Chris Okobah has called on the Inspector-General of Police Mr. Kayode Egbetokun to immediately vacate the local government offices in River State.
The Nigerian based in the United States of America , in a statement made available to our Correspondent, said the IGP’S decision to barricade the local government offices is problematic and potentially illegal.
Mr Okobah CEO of Royal Crystal Inc Atlanta Ga, said that the IGP’S decision had indicates a concerning trend of law enforcement being used for political purposes, threatening the democratic principles of impartiality and the rule of law.
He said,” The tenure of local government chairpersons in Rivers State has expired, yet they refuse to vacate their positions, citing a six-month extension granted by the state House of Assembly. However, the state governor dissolved their tenure, arguing that the constitution does not permit such extensions.
“This led to significant conflict, prompting the Inspector General of Police (IG) to barricade all local government council offices, preventing neither the former chairpersons nor the interim chairs appointed by the Governor from performing their duties.
“The IG’s action raises serious legal and ethical concerns. While the IG’s authority to protect life and property complies with the law, the continuous occupation of local government offices in this manner is questionable.
” The police force is meant to maintain law and order, not to engage in political disputes or enforce political decisions. By barricading the offices and preventing the interim chairpersons from accessing them, the IG effectively took a side in the political conflict, which could be interpreted as overstepping his mandate. Police neutrality is essential to uphold public trust in law enforcement agencies. As the Police Act states, the role of the police is to ensure “the maintenance of public safety and order,” not to participate in political conflicts.
“Furthermore, there appears to be inconsistency in the IG’s actions compared to similar situations in other states, where governors have dissolved local governments without such police intervention. The fact that these different states belong to the same party as the president suggests potential partisan bias. Suppose political affiliations influence the IG’s actions. In that case, it undermines the impartiality of the police force, turning it into a tool for political maneuvering rather than a guardian of the law. John Locke once said, “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.” The IG must vacate these offices immediately.
“The IG’s decision to barricade the local government offices is problematic and potentially illegal. It indicates a concerning trend of law enforcement being used for political purposes, threatening the democratic principles of impartiality and the rule of law. It is crucial for the integrity of the police force and the democratic process that such actions be scrutinized and corrected to ensure that the police remain neutral and focused on their primary duty of maintaining public order without political interference.
“In this matter, the police are encroaching upon the internal affairs of Rivers State, undermining the state’s autonomy and the democratic process”.

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