As the 2019 general election inches closer, the Nigeria Police needed to be cautioned against partisanship for there to be free and fair polls. It is pertinent to state that the integrity of the elections would depend largely on the impartiality of the security agencies, including the police.
The a President has consistently assured both the local and international communities of his determination to bequeath the culture of free, fair and credible polls. But the activities of the police ahead of the conduct of the Osun state governorship election on Saturday smacked of their interference in an entirely political matter.
While one would not condemn the police for discharging her responsibilities by arresting and arraigning suspects, the decision to summon the candidate of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Ademola Adeleke, to face charges 72 hours before the Osun governorship election left room for suspicion.
Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Jimoh Moshood, in a statement released on Wednesday summoned Adeleke and four others to make themselves available to the police for arraignment over charges criminal conspiracy, examination malpractice, amongst others.
Adeleke, Senator representing Osun West Senatorial District, was being accused alongside, Sikiru Adeleke, Alhaji Aregbesola Mufutau, Gbadamosi Thomas Ojo and Dare Olutope of examination malpractice, criminal conspiracy, impersonation, breach of duty, aiding and abetting.
According to him, the police had in July 2017 arrested them over the said allegations and after investigation had filed charges against them at the Federal High Court Abuja.
The invitation extended to the opposition party’s candidate on the eve of Osun state governorship election attracted widespread criticisms and condemnations.
Many have alleged that such invitation smacked of a ploy by the ruling All progressives Congress (APC) to put Adeleke at a disadvantaged position ahead of the polls.
But, thankfully, the President overruled the police on the matter urging them to stay action on the matter until after the conclusion of the polls.
Buhari’s intervention saved the day for the opposition which had already raised the alarm alleging police victimization of its candidate.
The police authorities already have the list of those jostling for positions ahead of the 2019 elections. These people should be subjected to discreet investigations now and possibly arraigned ahead of time. Police should avoid sudden invitation to any candidate few hours to the polls as such could be misconstrued to mean interference into political arena for the benefit of the ruling party.
Had the President failed to overrule the police on the Adeleke’s matter, the whole electoral process in the Osun governorship election would have been irretrievably flawed. Therefore, pauthorities in the police should always weigh the political implications of their actions so as not to imperil the electoral process.