In anticipation of the governorship election scheduled for November 11, 2023, the Inspector General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, has taken a decisive step by ordering the immediate redeployment of the Commissioner of Police for Imo State, Mohammed Barde, to the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
This move comes in the wake of mounting concerns over allegations of partisanship and a recent attack on the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, in Owerri, Imo State.
In a statement released on Sunday by the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the Inspector General’s decision to redeploy Commissioner Barde underscores the Nigerian Police Force’s commitment to maintaining the rule of law and ensuring absolute neutrality during the forthcoming electoral process.
Adejobi stated, “This redeployment is not an indictment on the affected officer but is rather part of a broader strategy aimed at bolstering security measures, promoting transparency, and upholding the integrity of the electoral security management.
The statement further quoted Adejobi as saying, “The IG is resolute in ensuring that a secure environment is provided for all stakeholders, political parties, candidates, and citizens to participate in the electoral process. He urges all and sundry to cooperate with the Police and other security agencies and adhere to the law in order to ensure a smooth and successful election while maintaining the principles of democracy.”
The decision to redeploy Commissioner Mohammed Barde follows growing concerns and calls for his removal by various groups, including the Nigerian Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, the Labour Party, and Civil Society Organizations. These calls were prompted by the disturbing incident in which NLC President Joe Ajaero was attacked and brutalized in Owerri while mobilizing workers for a protest demanding unpaid salaries.
Speaking during a Channels Television program titled “Peoples Town Hall On Election Security” on Sunday night, Inspector General Egbetokun addressed the situation, saying, “We are aware of the allegations against the Commissioner of Police in Imo. Before the elections, we’re changing the CP. This is not to imply that the CP has been found guilty, but for the sake of impartiality, we are changing the Commissioner of Police in Imo State.”
The attack on Joe Ajaero in Owerri had sparked widespread outrage, and both the NLC and TUC accused Commissioner Barde of being complicit in the attack. They issued a five-day ultimatum for the Federal Government to replace him, which has now been acted upon by the Inspector General of Police.
The redeployment of Commissioner Mohammed Barde is seen as a significant step toward ensuring a fair and secure governorship election in Imo State and reaffirms the commitment of Nigerian security agencies to uphold democratic principles and the rule of law in the electoral process.