The Inspector-General of Nigerian Police, Solomon Arase has threatened to employ maximum force against protesters demanding for the secession of the former Eastern region to form a Biafra republic for threatening public peace.
The warning from the police authority follows what it called “the increasing resort to acts of brigandage by sets of misguided individuals who apparently are hiding under the cloak of Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to threaten national security and public peace in parts of South East geopolitical Zone and some other conterminous States”.
Mr. Arase in a statement signed by Ag. ACP Olabisi Kolawole, Force Public Relations Officer cited the attempted blockade of the Onitsha end of the Niger Bridge on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 by the Biafra protesters which orchestrated unprecedented traffic jam and paralyzed business activities as typical example of the dangers such protest pose on the country. “The Inspector-General of Police notes that the increasing resort to acts of brigandage of this nature is pointing to a clear attempt by the brains behind these protests to test the will of security agencies to restore order and guarantee internal cohesion.
The police chief therefore declared that the restoration and maintenance of law and public order, and protection of lives and property remain sacred and statutory Mandate of the Nigeria Police.
This Mandate, he vows, shall be fully executed in the overriding interests of the nation and vast majority of citizens and residents of the South East geopolitical Zone. “The Nigeria Police Force will not fold its law enforcement arms to allow few misguided elements to continually force hardships on fellow Nigerians either in the South East or any other part of the nation for that matter”, he said.
According to Mr. Kolawole, “the Inspector-General of Police has directed the mobilisation and deployment of Police Mobile Force (PMF) across the country to reinforce security in the State Commands that MASSOB and IPOB are currently attempting to utilise as launching pad for their sinister intentions.
The statement reads in part: “The Assistant Inspectors – General of Police Zone 5, (Benin); Zone 6, (Calabar) and Zone 9 (Umuahia) as well as all Commissioners of Police in the affected States in the South East and neighbouring States have also been directed to henceforth maximally exercise their statutory Mandate in relation to prevention and disruption of any gathering that threatens public order and national cohesion. Any person or group of persons so arrested in furtherance to the enforcement of this order will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
The police authority therefore advises parents and guardians to call their children and wards that have joined the protest to order as the patience of the Force is being stretched to the limit. Arase, the statement disclosed, “affirmed that no individual or group interest can override the interest of the nation and that democratic values provide for exploration of rule of law to advance any concern, not the resort to endless and misguided acts of brigandage, unless there is an ulterior motive as the extant instance tends to dictate.”
By Olisemeka Obeche