Violence: Rivers Police Warn Politicians, Thugs
• Says Offenders Will Remain In Custody Until Court Reopen
TO stem the tide of political violence sweeping through in Rivers State, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has convened a meeting of political stakeholders in Port Harcourt, where the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Dan Bature, warned against breach of public peace.
Leaders of over 10 political parties in the state attended the meeting, Friday night at the Police Officers’ Mess, Port Harcourt, where Bature also urged members of the public not to take the closure of courts in the state as excuse to perpetuate crime.
The Police State boss said, at the appropriate time, anyone arrested would be charged to court. Saying he had received disturbing reports about unwarranted political attacks in the state, he stressed that the situation had degenerated to a level where every crime committed was attributed to politics.
Bature said, it was wrong for politicians to take politics as ‘ a do-or-die affair, stressing that candidates should demonstrate their popularity to the electorate and not encourage political thuggery.
He assured that the command would provide level-playing field for all candidates, warning that any negative fallout of elections would be adequately visited with the instrumentality of the law.
According to Bature, “As much as possible, we will engage in dialogue; as much as possible, we will be having interaction. But, one thing I want to assure you is that, as law enforcement agency, we have the capacity to handle whatever consequences that would be the fallout of any misbehaviour. We are not threatening anybody; we are saying it as it is.
“Unfortunately, in this state, the Judiciary is not working; otherwise, a lot of people would have been charged to court; but that does not mean that, when the court starts working, they would not be brought to court. When you commit offence, and because we cannot charge you to court, we will be with you until when the court re-opens.”
Continuing, Bature said, “Elections, ordinarily, should not be a do-or-die affair. Rivers State is a peculiar state. Everybody is interested in the election process in Rivers State; just as international communities are interested in the election process in Nigeria”.
“But, we cannot deceive ourselves to say all has been well in Rivers State. We have to tell ourselves the truth: We have received disturbing reports about political violence.
“Of course, you know (that) in Rivers State, we have a problem that has to do with containing criminality. And, by the time we begin to have issues related to politics, they would further give us more challenges. It becomes very problematic.
“We have had reports of dynamite explosion in Okrika; we have had another report of dynamite explosion in Ngor in Andoni. We have had another attack on governorship rally, very disturbing. And, if we cannot contain the situation now, gentlemen, if you want to be leader, I wonder who you want to lead,” he decried.