The new Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Tunde Ogunsakin Thursday warned that the existing ban on political rallies enforced by his predecessor, Joseph Mbu, was still in effect.
Mbu had during the twilight of his reign as Commissioner of Police, put the ban in place citing the volatile nature of the state politics as an excuse.
Ogunsakin, barely 24 hours in his new position, at a media press briefing in Port Harcourt, also warned political parties against flouting the relevant sections of the Electoral Act, which stipulates that they (political parties) are not allowed to begin political campaigns earlier than 90 days before the election.
His words: “It is a known fact that human beings generally are political animals and in multi-party system of government as we have in Nigeria, people must have different political leanings based on the political party they belong. Therefore my role as a law enforcement Officer in a situation like this is to insist that political activities in the State should be carried within the ambit of law and in a way that the security of the State will not be threatened in any manner.
“In accordance with section 99 (1) of the electoral Act, political rallies are not allowed to hold or commence in any part of Nigeria until 90 days preceding the date of the elections and Rivers State should not be an exception.
“The said section provides as follows ‘for the purpose of this Electoral Acts, the period of campaigning in public by every political party shall commence 90 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to that day’”, he said.
Ogunsakin explained that any political association or pressure group that intends to hold any public gathering in the state must give the police not less than five days’ notice to allow for provision of adequate security and protection.
According to him, “For the purpose of the proper and peaceful conduct of political rallies and procession , the Commissioner of Police in each State of the federation and federal capital Territory, Abuja shall provide adequate security for procession at political rallies in the States and the federal Capital Territory, Abuja”.
He warned that the police would not hesitate to go after any person, pressure groups and associations that posed a security threat to the state, adding that they would be dealt with according to the law.
The Rivers police boss, however, promised to commence consultations with various interest groups in the state with a view to addressing grey areas, noting that the duty of the police was to provide adequate security to the public.