By NBF News
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The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has condemned the alleged role of the police in the ongoing political persecution of Senator J.J. Akpanudoedehe of Akwa Ibom state. It said the gross partisanship and lack of professionalism exhibited by the police in the case do not augur well for the 2011 general elections.

In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it was very glaring and painfully obvious to all that Senator Akpanudoedehe was being constantly threatened with prosecution over a phantom murder case in order to stifle political opposition in the state and decimate all opposition to Governor Godswill Akpabio.

It said the only reason that Senator Akpanudoedehe was being hounded by the governor, ably assisted by the State Police Commissioner and the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), IGP Hafiz Ringim, was that he had decided to, in line with the rights guaranteed him and other citizens by the Constitution, decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to ACN.

ACN said it was very saddening that Ringim had allowed the police under him to be used by Akpabio to settle political score in the state.

'The neutrality and professionalism of the security agencies are indispensable in providing a peaceful atmosphere and ensuring a level-playing field for all candidates during the 2011 general elections. But the emerging scenario in Akwa Ibom, where a murder case of which he has been cleared has become a Sword of Damocles on Senator Akpanudoedehe, is a bad omen for the elections.

'Apparently, Acting IGP Ringim, does not subscribe to the consistent pledge by his boss, the President, that all efforts will be made by his administration to ensure a successful election next year. If he (Ringim) does, he would not have denied the Senator the request he made for police protection to enable him travel from Abuja to Akwa Ibom to attend the decamping ceremony. It is noteworthy that such requests have been granted the Senator in the past by Ringim's predecessors.

'Had Ringim subscribed to the President's assurance that the security agencies will be neutral before, during and after next year's election, he would not have threatened not to give police protection to the Senator or threatened to charge the Senator to court in Uyo Wednesday, October 13, for the June 2010 murder of Paul Inyang, even though nothing incriminating was found on him during the two weeks he (Senator) was unjustly incarcerated by the police after the murder.

'Whatever happens, Ringim should know that the Akwa Ibom case is a test case for his ability or otherwise to lead his men and women to provide a conducive atmosphere for the forthcoming elections; and for the police to ensure that every citizen's rights as guaranteed by the Constitution are respected, whether or not that citizen belongs to the ruling party or the opposition,' ACN said.

The party warned that democracy could not thrive when people were being hounded by the police just because of their political leanings, when the police is used to stifle opposition and when the freedom to associate is wilfully truncated by the police. ACN urged the Acting IGP to ensure that the event scheduled by the ACN for Saturday in Uyo was allowed to hold and that Senator Akpanudoedehe is not prevented from attending on the basis of a phantom murder case.

'Anything short of that will be an early signal that the police under Acting IGP Ringim cannot be trusted to protect the rights of all citizens, who are not members of the ruling party and this will be sad for the IGP as well as the nation,' the party said.