A lot of times, many do allege that the executive arm of government exploits its control of the Police to terrorise or gain control of another branch of government – the legislature. With the prevailing situation in Akwa Ibom and other similar ones, it may be safe to conclude that they are right to suspect so.
If this suspicion was not so, how would the police be instrumental to the show of shame currently going on at the Akwa Ibom State Assembly? Yesterday, Hon. Ntuen and 4 others who recently defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) took illegal action to stage a House sitting which suspended the 11 remaining lawmakers. The seats of these 5 members of the APC were recently declared vacant by the Speaker, Hon. Luke, after a court ruling consequent upon their defection to the APC. This was the origin of the chaos, and the 5 former members of the House alongside the APC party machinery would have nothing of such humiliation.
The 5 lawmakers were even on the verge of sitting this morning when Governor Udom Emmanuel arrived with his own thugs and the usurpers were said to have taken to their heels. It is worthy of note that these incidents happened under the protection of men of the Nigerian Police Force; escorting the renegade lawmakers to perform an unlawful sitting which is not even up to the prescribed quorum for making legislative decisions.
To freshen our minds with some recent history, back in June, an equally shameful attempt at forcefully occupying the National Assembly by a minority of lawmakers was broadcasted to the world. Armed men of the Department of State Security (DSS) and the police were seen on camera harassing and preventing entry of senators into the Assembly premises. There was a shouting match and even a foiled attempt to house-arrest the Senate President, Bukola Saraki before he got to the Assembly premises so that he won’t be able to preside over Senate sitting on that fated day. He and other senators were able to thwart the plans of the power play anyway.
Many would not understand the gravity of the event. A cursory look into how House Speakers and Senate Presidents in the past, since 1999 for instance, and one would conclude fairly that politics is really a dirty game. But to involve Police departments and other armed forces in a political struggle is a new low in power play and one which beckons only to anarchy as is evident in Akwa Ibom.
Without sounding alarmist, there was a time State Police Commissioners were being switched, posted and reposted in and out of Rivers State. This led to a temporary destabilisation of the security architecture of the state at that point and violence began to resurface among political thugs because they wanted to resist police influence into their politics. The same thing was done in Bayelsa state a few weeks ago where police commissioners were summarily being posted in and out of duty. Not until violence started to erupt among desperate political jobbers, and the PDP as a party raised alarm over it, did the ugly trend abate. And presently, this is the same thing with Akwa Ibom State where some drama at the police department in conjunction with the State House of Assembly has been going on for weeks now.
There were even insinuations in some quarters that a ₦5 billion payment was involved to induce the success of the destabilisation and/or the impeachment of the Akwa Ibom State Governor. There is no doubt that such a move would enhance the chances of the APC at the coming 2019 polls.
We may never know how true this allegation is. However, it is easier for us to see how the seemingly innocent actions of the executive arm of government, in which the office of the Inspector General of Police makes moves as it wishes, plays its cards as a potent tool at engineering their political schemes.
There is no better time than now to call for a restructuring where powers of government branches are sincerely separated and there is no undue influence over another. The time to restructure our politics and even the Constitution is imminent.