As political parties prepare to test their popularity in next year’s general elections, the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 5, Benin City, Hashimu Argungu, on Monday, met with leaders of political parties in Edo State, warning that the police would not hesitate to disperse any political rally organized without police permit.
He also warned that any police officer caught engaging in any election duty outside his or her operational area would face the music.
The AIG was speaking in the Edo State capital flanked by the State Police Commissioner, Folunso Adebanjo, during a meeting held with party leaders.
The All Progressives Congress, Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party, were represented at the parley.
Argungu said he decided to call the meeting to inform politicians on the need to play according to the rules of the game in order to avoid the breakdown of law and order in the state.
The police boss said though the 1999 Constitution guaranteed freedom of association and assembly, the provisions of the Public Act Laws of 2004, as well as the Electoral Act 2004, as amended, regulated conduct of rallies, processions and assemblies.
He said, “For the purpose of proper and peaceful conduct of public assemblies, meetings, any person desirous of convening or conducting such meetings or rallies is required to apply for and obtain permit.
“In the same vein, where such license is granted, section 2 of the said act confers on the police, power to stop such assemblies, rallies, meetings where they violate any condition of the licence.
“Where no licence or permit is obtained, the police by virtue of this same section are empowered to stop such rallies, meetings etc”, he stressed.
Restating the commitment of the police to ensure peaceful atmosphere for the enhancement of democracy, the AIG said, “There will always be a level playing field for all citizens who are desirous of engaging in gatherings or rallies. Politicians must therefore play their own role so as to ensure public safety in the state”.
In their separate responses, the Publicity Secretary of APC in Edo, Godwin Erhahon, Christopher Adesotu of PDP and others, lauded the police for initiating the meeting and promised that their members would be informed accordingly.