…Alleges political partisanship

…CP allegedly gave political thugs Police Armoured Personnel carrier during elections

… Detainees held incommunicado in police Units

… Many detainees allegedly disappeared, executed or died from torture

Juliana Francis

At least 19 Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria have jointly written a petition to the Police Service Chairman, Dr. Solomon Arase, demanding the redeployment of Imo State Commissioner of Police Mohammed Ahmed Barde, alleging political partisanship.

In the petition, which copy was made available to our reporter, CSOs noted President Muhammadu Buhari’s commendable directive to the Inspector General of Police, Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), and the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), to investigate the role of their officers in aiding and abetting the conduct, actions of Barr. Hudu Yunusa Ari, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Adamawa State during the Adamawa governorship election.

The group recalled that the president also ordered that if found culpable, appropriate disciplinary actions, must be meted out to the erring officers.

According to the group, Barde who was involved in the Adamawa election debacle has been the Commissioner of Police, Imo State since April 2022, adding that the details of Barde’s inglorious role in the electoral charade that marred the Adamawa governorship election, resulting in the Inspector General of Police ordering him to “pull out” from the state and, in his stead, dispatching the CP of Gombe State, CP Etim Equa, to Adamawa to restore order and ensure the peaceful conclusion of the disrupted election was fully out there in the public space and needs no rehashing.

The group added: “The Commissioner of Police who was detailed to ensure electoral security in a state could be withdrawn midway from that state owing to his involvement in electoral crimes and malfeasance which undermined the process speaks volumes.

“Barde also displayed partisanship during the 2023 Presidential and State Assembly elections in Imo State in utter violation of the Standard Operational Guidelines for Law Enforcement Agents on Election Duty.

“This development lends credence to the loud and long-standing outcry in Imo State where Barde as CP has been repeatedly accused of brazen partisanship and superintending over rogue policing, which manifested in the electoral violence, voter suppression and manipulations that characterized the recent presidential and state assembly elections in Imo state, which gave undue advantage to the ruling party.”

The group mentioned that Barde had been described as a hatchet man for the Imo State Governor, stressing that some Police officers in Imo State command under Barde had been implicated in many unprofessional and criminal conducts, including harassment, intimidation, and attacks on political opposition members.

“They have been involved in framing opposition politicians with false charges with some ending up being remanded in prison over baseless and frivolous allegations of terrorism. The houses of some opposition members have been attacked and people killed in the process. Despite CCTV clips revealing some police officers whose identities are well known, CP Barde has done nothing to investigate and bring the bandits to account,” said the group.

The undersigned further explained that during the recent House of Assembly elections in Imo State, a combination of political thugs loyal to the governor, members of the governor’s hit squad operating from the Imo State government house and some police operatives working in cahoots were seen operating with Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), prowling from one polling unit to another across the state, attacking people, disrupting votes and carting away ballot boxes and ballot papers.

“For example, the Imo State Deputy Speaker, Jon Amara Iwuanyanwu, the candidate of APC for Nwangele constituency was found in the company of Police operatives, operating with Armoured Personnel Carriers, prowling from one polling unit to another in Nwangele LGA, committing acts of electoral violence. They were alleged to have mass thumb-printed ballot papers and stuffed them into the snatched ballot boxes. False and inflated results were announced in favor of the ruling party. The ruling party was declared winner in virtually all the elections, including polling units where elections were alleged not to have been allowed to hold. INEC kowtowed to these acts of electoral brigandage, endorsed and announced the fraudulent results and has yet to heed calls to investigate widespread allegations of election violence, vote rigging and declaration of false results,” the group stated.

The group noted that reports by different local and international election observation groups highlighted Imo State among the states where election violence were more pronounce.

It said: “The heads of some police units under the Imo State Police Headquarters are known to work on the directives of the governor’s security aides and hit men, and are used to harass, intimidate, arrest, detain, torture and extort citizens especially young people accused of being IPOB/ESN members, in many cases without evidence. Young people are still randomly arrested, their phones seized and searched and those who ask questions are brutalized and assaulted with machetes.”

The group maintained that there were many detainees in police cells especially in some notorious police Units in Imo State Police Command, such as the Anti-Kidnapping Unit.

They further recounted: “They are held incommunicado in very cruel, inhuman, and degrading conditions with some of them carrying bullet wounds without medical attention. Many have disappeared, are executed or died as a result of not being treated for injuries resulting from torture. Yet, the CP does not respond to petitions complaining these egregious human rights violations.

“We call for the removal of CP Barde from Imo State and an investigation into his unprofessional activities. To return CP Barde to Imo State is to do a grave disservice to the people of the state.

“It will mean extending the misery of a people who have for long suffered unmitigated oppression and subjugation in the hands of a predatory Police under the superintendence of Barde working as a partisan stooge for Governor Hope Uzodinma.”



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