BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI
Ebonyi State Police Command has justified the attack on Labour Party’s supporters on Saturday during a solidarity march for its Presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
The State’s Commissioner of Police, Garba Aliyu, justified the attack on supporters in a press statement signed by the Command’s Public Relations Officer, SP Chris Anyanwu.
According to Aliyu, the supporters failed to meet up with terms of agreement with the police before the rally.
The Police Commissioner said,
“Several unfounded allegations of Police high-handedness have been renting the air with regards to the One-Million-Man-Rally organized by the Labour Party and other loyalists of the Peter Obi Presidential Campaign in Ebonyi State. It is pertinent to put the records straight in spite of all false allegations and the press release from the State Government.
“Granted that the organizers of the rally had a brief meeting with the Police Command authority represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, it was expected that the group should abide by the outcome of the meeting and the requisite conditions given by the State Government which includes payment of a certain amount of money for the use of the Stadium as a take-off point as well as another refundable sum of money as a collateral in case of any damage to Government property/infrastructures.
“It was therefore unfortunate when the Command got wind of the fact that the organizers of the rally failed to meet up with the obligations and threatened to go ahead and conduct the rally threatening that nobody, not even the State Government would stop them from going on, against the decision of the State’s Gubernatorial candidate for Labour Party, Dr. Edward Nnwegu’s decision to stop the rally in order to avoid the looming catastrophe.
“Armed with credible intelligence, the State Police Command sensing that if not checked, the rally will become turbulent and create a state of insecurity in the state decided to nip it at the bud. So in a bid to proactively curb the impending turbulence, police men were despatched to the newly proposed take-off venue, Pastorial Center for the purpose of maintaining law and order.
“Unfortunately, while the Police men were properly deployed to ensure that there was no breakdown of the law, the radicals and mischief-makers among the rallyists became violent and started hauling missiles on the police operatives, uttering all manners of imprintable statements on the Police and the Government. Many of them even went physical to assault and attack the police men.
“So in response, and guided by the Presidential pronouncements/order at the era of the unpopular END-SARS protests, the police personnel on duty rose to the occasion to dislodge the violent and criminally oriented attackers.
After taking control of the situation, the rally continued and ended up peacefully. This is even depicted in the video clips captured during the peaceful rally.
“I therefore on behalf of Aliyu Garba the Commissioner of Police, Ebonyi State, state that the Police in Ebonyi State acted professionally and within the rules of engagement in order to ensure that peace and order prevails in Ebonyi State, please.”