A group, The Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa, has raised alarm over alleged plans by the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to influence the change of the Police Commissioner in the state and replace him with a pliable ally who would, according to them, help with his plans to use security agencies to harass and arbitrarily detain his political opponents.
In a statement signed by the Coalition’s spokesperson, Mr. Collins Osarenkhoe, and released to the press today in Abuja, the group called on the President and the Police Service Commission to investigate the claims and check the “growing authoritarianism” in Edo State.
The statement read: “We have reliably gathered that the Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo State who is presently in Abuja for political reasons, has boasted in a meeting that he is finalizing plans to replace the Commissioner of Police in Edo State with a certain Johnson Kokumo whom he considers an ally.”
“He was said to have complained to some politicians in the Federal Capital Territory over his inability to assume total control of the present Police Chief in the state, hence his preference for Kokumo ahead of the APC Primaries and the governorship election in the state. The switch, according to our sources, is to allow the governor unilaterally direct the Police to arrest and detain his political opponents in the state without basis or sound legal reason.”
“We find this disturbing and a direct affront on the democracy of the state, the rights to a political choice and association, and respect for the constitutional freedoms of the people, as well as the Nigeria Police Force and its agents to pursue justice and security without bias or favoritism to anyone.”
“It is clear that Mr. Godwin Obaseki has found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that he is not a divine King in the Victorian era, but a public servant and elected government official who remains subject to the law and constitution of the country. The powers of his office are not without limits and he certainly cannot infringe on the rights of others or victimize them because of their political choice.”
“If he is allowed to get away with this, and replace the present Police Chief with an ally that would fulfill his tyrannical wish to lock up political opponents arbitrarily, this could derail democracy of the state and country, and reverse the steady gains we have recorded since 1999.”
“We call on the Police Service Commission to defend its integrity by investigating this and blocking any such move by Mr. Godwin Obaseki. We also call on the President and other eminent Nigerians to call on Mr. Godwin Obaseki to order over his desperate desire to remain in office.”