By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Opposition political parties in Kwara state on Wednesday rose against alleged plan by the police hierarchy to foist a new Commissioner of Police on the state.
The coalition of opposition parties posited that the proposed new police commissioner, Kayode Egbetokun, is linked with a stalwart of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Egbetokun, who had served as Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Tinubu had been announced as police commissioner for Lagos state in the dying days of the immediate past Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, but his deployment was stopped at the last minute due to what was considered as high wire politics and criticism of his known relationship with the APC national leader.
Addressing newsmen in Ilorin, state chairman of the Conference of National Political Parties (CNPP), Alh Adebayo Lawal, said it would be odd to post Egbetokun to a state where Tinubu is known to have strong interest in securing political dominance.
The CNPP also argued that the proposed change is suspicious and indicates a desperation on the part of the APC more so as the incumbent police commissioner in the state was only recently posted to duty there.
He added : “Late yesterday, we received credible intelligence that the Federal Government had concluded plans with the police hierarchy to deploy Egbetokun to Kwara, which is in furtherance of their plot to manipulate the forthcoming elections in the state.
“While we do not hold any grudges against the police officer, we reject his planned posting to Kwara based on his loyalty and affiliation to the APC leader, Bola Tinubu, whose interest and intentions in Kwara elections is well known. For those who do not know, Egbetokun served as the Chief Security Officer to Tinubu for years. Recently, he was appointed as Lagos Commissioner of Police but his appointment was rejected by the people and government of Lagos.
“The planned change in the leadership of the Police Command in Kwara few days to the general elections is not only insensitive but also reeks of suspicion and downright desperation on the part of the APC-led Federal Government that is ready to deploy any means to take over power in the State.
“Although, we acknowledge the fact that the police hierarchy has the powers to deploy or redeploy its officers as it deems fit, we, however, believe that the police must take into cognizance certain factors in exercising such powers, especially at this electioneering period in order not to raise doubts in the minds of the public particularly the opposition. Moves such as this cannot guarantee confidence in the police to do an impartial job during the elections.
“We believe that posting Egbetokun to Kwara is part of moves to rig the forthcoming elections in favour of the APC. Our findings reveal that the Federal Government intends to post Egbetokun to Kwara to provide cover for APC agents to divert electoral materials and also to provide shield for APC thugs to unleash violence and disrupt election in areas that are not strongholds of the party.
“It is also instructive to note that the incumbent Kwara Commissioner of Police was recently posted to the State and has been performing his official duties diligently. As far as we know, there is absolutely no basis for his redeployment.
“We therefore, condemn and reject in totality the intended posting of Egbetokun, an ally of Tinubu to Kwara State. We strongly hold that his posting to Kwara and subsequent involvement in the electoral process portends serious danger to the success of the exercise.
“Already, there are insinuations that Tinubu and the APC are desperate to hijack power from Saraki and annex Kwara to Lagos. Therefore, posting Tinubu’s former security aide to serve as Commissioner of Police in Kwara will further lend credence to the insinuations.
“We hereby appeal to the APC/FG to halt the planned deployment of Egbetokun to Kwara to avoid heating up the polity and heightening the current political tension in the State. We must separate governance from politics.
“We appeal to international agencies, civil societies, leaders of thought, well-meaning Nigerians and the general public to join in condemning the plot by the APC to manipulate electoral process in Kwara. The Federal Government and the APC should allow Kwarans exercise their constitutional right by voting the candidates of their choice in a violent-free environment.
“All political parties participating in the forthcoming elections are stakeholders and our concerns must be well addressed to ensure the success of the exercise.
“We also call on INEC and security agencies to insulate themselves from partisan politics and not to allow themselves be used by the APC-led Federal Government to scuttle the electoral process.”