The Nigeria Police Force has put its men on red alert over the plans by Biafra agitators to shut markets and stage protests in south east Nigeria on 30 May.
The date has no significance in the history of Biafra as the war started on 6 July 1967 and ended on 15 January 1970.
The masterminds of the civil actions are the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Biafra Independence Movement (BIM) and other groups.
Moshood Jimoh, the Force Public Relations officer, said the police were deeply concerned with the security implications of the planned actions and urged the groups to shelve their plans in ”the interest of national security”.
According to him, the police deemed the actions as part of renewed hostilities and subversive propaganda aimed at undermining law and order in the south eastern states by these groups, their associates, sponsors, apologists and sympathisers.
“ Consequently, the Commissioners of Police in the affected States and their supervising Assistant Inspectors General of Police, have been directed by the Inspector General of Police to be strict, polite, civil and firm in dealing with the situation and put all the Police Personnel and Police Anti-Riot equipments on red alert to deal decisively in accordance with the law with any eventuality from these groups, that can disrupt commercial activities, vehicular movements and safety of lives and properties in some States of the Federation considered to be flash/vulnerable points which have witnessed the unfortunate disturbance of public peace by these groups in the recent past.
“The Force sees the activities of these groups as not only unlawful but highly provocative and capable of causing breach of the peace currently being enjoyed in the South East States and other States of the Federation. The planned protests and orders of Market closure and illegal unilateral self imposed restrictions of vehicular movements by these groups in the affected States should be disregarded by all well meaning Nigerians. The Nigeria Police Force, hereby advised the members of the public to go about their lawful duties and other responsibilities without any fear or apprehension as adequate security arrangements have been put in place for the safety of every Nigerian throughout the Country by Nigeria Police Force and other Security agencies.
” The Nigeria Police Force is not unaware of the rights of every Nigerian to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and freedom of movement, as essentials of democracy provided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended particularly sections 38, 39, 40 and 41. However, these rights must be observed with decorum, in good faith and without violating the rights of other millions of Nigerians to free movements and access to public/private facilities and their means of livelihood on daily basis.
The Nigeria Police while observing the rights of all Nigerians as stated above is equally conscious of the fact that these rights are not absolute as section 45 of the same Constitution provide for derogations to these rights. Consequently, the Police will resist the action(s) of any person or group of persons for whatever course that is against the interest of public defence, public safety, public order, public morality and a threat to the rights and freedom of other Nigerians.
“The Force will continue to Police the Country based on international core values and best practices and operate within the Principles of Democratic Policing but will not succumb and tolerate criminal activities of any group(s) under any guise to cause disturbance of public peace and unleash mayhem on innocent Nigerians anywhere in the country.
” As a result, the Police Force is hereby calling on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Biafran Independence Movement (BIM), the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) to consider the consequences of their actions and activities and without delay and call themselves to order in the interest of National Security, and safety of lives and properties of every Nigerian across the Nation as the full weight of the law will be made to bear on violators of the laws.
“The Nigeria Police Force will not hesitate to deal decisively with any group(s) and their sponsors that attempt to cause disturbance of the peace or carry out any unlawful demonstration, unlawful assembly/procession or gathering and public disobedience that can jeopardise law and order and harmonious co-existence within and amongst Nigerians throughout the country. The fact that freedom of expression as one of the dictates of democracy is being observed by the Police, should not be misconstrued as liberty by any group(s) for sectional or group interest to violate the laws and cause mayhem, confusion and apprehension in the minds of more than about one hundred and seventy Millions Nigerians.
“The Force will continue to carry out its Constitutional duties and other statutory responsibilities in accordance with the law of the land and for the utmost protection of lives and properties of all Nigerians across the Country”.[NAN]