By NBF News

A human rights activist, Professor Ikechukwu Amadi, has condemned the recent temporary halt of the campaign train of former governor of the state, Dr. Orji Kalu, who is running for the Abia North Senatorial District under the banner of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), by the police in Abia State.

He described the action as part of the government's agenda to intimidate and shut out the opposition from the canvassing votes from the electorate. Speaking with Daily Sun, Prof. Amadi said, 'we deplore attempts to muzzle the opposition. In a democracy, there must be level-playing field and equal access to the people whose ballot determines who represents them.  We are saddened by this development. The police must resist attempts by the government or its agents to use them, citing spurious security reports or threat to peace.'

The Police High Command in Abia State had, in a letter addressed to Kalu, dated March 16, and signed by DCP Kings Omire, asked him to suspend further campaigns because of a near fatal clash between opposing parties. The letter reads in part: 'This command is aware of your successful campaign of several wards in Bende LGA.  However, the near bloody confrontation between your campaign team and some indigenes of Isuochi in Umunneochi LGA on Tuesday, March 19, 2011 and malicious damage to cars belonging to both members of PPA and PDP is a source of worry to the Command.'

The police said while it had commenced investigations into the incident, 'it is against this background that I am directed to inform you that the permit granted to you by the police is temporarily suspended so as to enable the police reach out to the various stakeholders in all areas relevant to your political campaign tour and make them understand that you are entitled as a citizen of this country to travel to anywhere in Abia North Senatorial District and campaign for votes.'

Contacted for his comments, Kalu, the leading senatorial candidate in the forthcoming polls, said the temporary withdrawal of the permit had been lifted and commended the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bala Hassan, for his maturity in resolving the issue.

'The CP was not around when the permit was initially withdrawn but when he returned he promptly restored my inalienable constitutional rights to vote and be voted for and my rights to canvass for votes as a senatorial candidate.  The police have been doing their best so far but they must continue to resist the attempt by the outgoing government to use them as instruments of coercion and intimidation against the opposition. They should insist on fairness and equity. We are all Nigerians and Abians. Any attempt to shut out the opposition will not be in the interest of peace and justice,' Kalu said.