Nigeria's main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has slammed the country's police force of engaging in a 'selective enforcement' of its ban on political, socio-cultural and religious rallies at the nation's airports.
In a statement issued here on Sunday, APC said this does not bode well for the 2015 general elections when the police is expected to be 'neutral and professional' in carrying out its duties.
The party said the police was wrong to have allowed the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to flout the ban with impunity on 1 Feb., when hundreds of the party's members thronged the Bauchi Airport in northern Nigeria to welcome new PDP Chairman Adamu Muazu.
'The questions to ask are: Is the ban not applicable to the PDP? If it is applicable to it, what has the police done to sanction the party since it breached the order over two weeks ago? If the police will allow the PDP to get away with such lawlessness, can the same police sanction any other party or individual who breaches its order banning rallies at airports?' it queried.
APC said the double standard being exhibited by the police is the reason many Nigerians are saying the Nigeria Police Force has turned itself to the enforcement arm of the PDP or that the force has even merged with the party.
'This does not augur well for the image of the police and it sends a wrong signal about whether the police can be neutral and professional before, during and after the 2015 elections. It also raises doubt about the ability of the police to effectively carry out its constitutional duty of ensuring the protection of lives and property.
'The police ridicules itself and wears down its own authority when it panders to the PDP, whereas the force is being maintained by the tax payers, whether or not they belong to the ruling party. The police, more than perhaps any other government agency, should know that no one, no matter how highly placed, is above the law, and that lawful orders from the police are not for selective enforcement.
'We are therefore waiting for the police to either appropriately sanction the PDP for contravening its orders or immediately lift the ban on rallies at the airports. Failure to act will show the police as a partisan and unprofessional force that cannot be relied upon to adequately provide security and help ensure a level playing field for all parties in the forthcoming general elections, not to talk of carrying out is constitutional role!' APC said.
The role of the Nigeria police has come under increasing scrutiny ahead of next year's general elections, because the country has a history of the police taking orders from the party in power, to the detriment of the opposition.