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Police bar journalists at election tribunal


Journalist. Photo; ionigeria

Journalist. Photo; ionigeria

Heavily armed policemen yesterday barred journalists from entering the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal ‎venue at Roseline Omotoso Court House, Ikeja, Lagos.

The tribunal is sitting to determine the propriety of the election of the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, which was being challenged by the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).

Meanwhile, in a bid to explore options on how to enhance better relationship between policemen and the civil populace, 400 participants have been drawn across the country to discuss ways to bridge the gap, ensure better service delivery as well as chart a course for better policing in Nigeria.

At a press briefing organised by the Police Force yesterday in Abuja to speak on the upcoming National Security Summit 2015, Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) Emmanuel Ojukwu said the realization that “there is an urgent need to bridge the yawning gap between the Police and the community in order to restore public trust, that would motivate citizens to see crime and national security management as a joint obligation,” gave impetus to the proposed summit, themed ‘Community Partnership approach to Internal Security and Crime Management.’

Ojukwu said, “over 400 participants who are considered as strategic security stakeholders drawn from a broad spectrum of the Nigerian society are expected…Traditional rulers from the 36 states of the federation, civil society and community based organizations, the media and vigilante and religious groups among others.”

At the resumed hearing of the election matter yesterday, the police parked its patrol vehicle with registration number RRS 161 LA to cordon off the area, which is at the T-junction opposite Ikeja Police College.

Also there were two unmarked patrol vehicles opposite the entrance of the Lagos State Water Corporation, which was also full of armed policemen.

Besides, police patrol vehicle no NPF 9918 filled with arms wielding policemen was parked directly in front of the tribunal gate, alongside another with registration number CY 581 KTU attached to Shogunle Division.

When The Guardian reporter and other journalists made effort to enter the tribunal chamber through the gate, the policemen at the entrance ordered them to go back, saying they were acting “on an order from above that nobody should be allowed into the chamber.”

Corroborating the position of policemen attached to the tribunal’s gate, Lanre Ogunlowo, an Assistant Commissioner of P‎olice, who led the team of armed policemen to the tribunal ordered newsmen to stay away from the tribunal entrance.
‎His words: “Our CP came here yesterday and instructed us not to allow anybody in, including journalists.”

Ojukwu, while expressing optimism that the summit outcome will strengthen national security, as well as re-energise police leadership on internal security of the country, he added the summit, an idea of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Solomon Arase will “enlighten strategic stakeholders and citizens at the grassroots level of their roles in national security architecture… create a veritable platform that will encourage the spirit of community engagement in policing, and strengthen the synergy between law enforcement agencies and the diverse communities in Nigeria towards crime and national security management.

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