The Network on Police Reform (NOPRIN) in Nigeria has petitioned the United States Ambassador to Nigeria over the siege by the nation’s security agencies on the residences of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu last Tuesday.
In the petition dated July 25, the group frowned at the increasingly partisan nature of the security agencies, particularly the Nigeria Police Force.
“When the executive arm of government decides to over reach itself, exploits its undue control of security agencies and uses them to harass, intimidate and undermine other arms of the government which are co-equal and together with it, make up the government, then it is a serious cause for concern about the survival of democracy,” NOPRIN said in the statement signed by its national coordinator, Okechukwu Nwanguma.
“When security forces are manipulated and used to frame allegations against the heads of other arms of government in a bid to harass, blackmail, and attempt to whip them into line in the political interest of the president and his political party, then there is serious cause for concern about the survival of democracy.”
Nigerians were treated to an early morning drama last Tuesday when security agencies laid a siege on the homes of Messrs Saraki and Ekweremadu in an apparent move to prevent them from making it to the National Assembly because of an alleged plan by many lawmakers to decamp from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The siege attracted widespread condemnations from Nigerians including former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, and a former governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa.
In its statement, NOPRIN said the actions of the security agencies showed that institutions of state are being used to pursue blatant partisan political objectives in ways that undermine their credibility and neutrality which will foster long-term damage to these institutions.
“Why, for instance, will the Police hand a letter to the Senate President on the night of Monday requiring him to appear at the Force Headquarters by 8 am the next day to answer questions on alleged abetting of crime or accessory after the fact of a crime only for the same police to turn up and besiege his house in the very early hours of the next day even before the time he was given to appear before the police?
“Could it have been a coincidence that the EFCC, acting in the same Gestapo fashion, also handed a letter dated 24 July, 2016 to the Deputy Senate President requiring him to report at 10 am in its offices on the same day over a ‘Case of Conspiracy, Abuse of Office and Money Laundering’ only for the same EFCC and other security agencies to surround his residence and put his house under lock?
“Exactly what objectives were these security agencies pursuing? Whose interest are they serving?”
The group stated it was concerned that the actions of the security agencies, including the police, amounted to interference with the functioning and operations of an important arm of government and a threat to the nation’s democracy.
“You can then imagine what ordinary Nigerians go through in the hands of security agencies on a daily basis if highly placed and privileged government officials could suffer this level of harassment and intimidation.”
The group accused President Muhammadu Buhari of endorsing the actions of the security agencies through his silence and inaction since the incident.
“Since the president, by his silence and inaction in the face of these clearly criminal, unconstitutional and anti democratic behaviours by security agencies, appears complicit, we believe that the only option we are left with is to call on the international community to intervene and save our democracy.
“We call on your Excellency and the international community to take President Buhari up on these issues and also to prevail on the Nigeria police to stay out of politics and support democracy.”