The All Progressives Congress (APC) has alerted the nation to the systematic arrest, harassment and intimidation of its members and supporters in Gombe by the PDP-led government in the state and its police collaborators.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Friday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the clampdown on the APC in Gombe is similar to what obtains in Bayelsa state, over which the party had cause to raise the alarm on May 14th, and is sure to extend to other states as the 2015 general elections approach, because of the desperation and anti-democratic credentials of the PDP.
It said the situation in Gombe State is marked by the continuous destruction of APC properties, including offices, flags, posters, banners and billboards in most of the local government areas and party headquarters.
”Sadly, the police who are maintained by taxpayers’ funds and are expected to be non-partisan have been providing cover for the PDP agents who engage in this destructive spree, while being quick to arrest our members and supporters who try to resist the destruction of our party’s properties.
”In addition, the police engage in frequent arrest and detention of our youths and supporters, who are then charged to court in an action that is clearly aimed at weakening their resolve to exercise their constitutional rights of free association, and ultimately to destabilize our party.
”Such arrests and intimidation of our youth and other supporters have occurred in Dukku, Balanga, Kaltungo, Akko, Nafada and Gombe, and the latest occurred a few days ago involving the mass arrest of our members, especially youths,” APC said.
The party expressed concern that the arrests and other acts of intimidation are about to increase, as the DPO of Gombe Division, DSP Babayola, has been tacitly empowered with a fleet of hilux vans to destabilize the APC in Gombe Metropolis, which is the epi-centre of the arrest, detention and torture of APC members.
It reminded the police that the destabilization of opposition political parties, arrest and intimidation of opposition members and supporters and the provision of cover for thugs to destroy the properties of opposition political parties are not part of the constitutional duties of the police, hence they should desist from engaging in what is clearly an unconstitutional act.
”On our part, we will continue to monitor and document these acts of brigandage and the role of the police, with a view to ensuring that they are lawfully challenged in due course. We also call on the police hierarchy to call their officers and men in Gombe to order, now that they have become an accomplice to political brigandage and also become glaringly partisan,” APC said.
The party appealed to its members and supporters in Gombe to continue to eschew violence and maintain their peace, even in the face of obvious provocation from the intolerant and anarchic PDP-led government in the state.