PDP Convention: Why we sealed Shark Stadium – Police

The police Wednesday said they shut down the Sharks Stadium in Port Harcourt, venue of the national convention of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to forestall the breakdown of law and order.

Speaking on the development, the Force Public Relations Officer, Don Awunah said the action was a proactive move aimed at safeguarding lives and property of the crowd at the venue.

Awunah spoke on Wednesday during a live radio programme, Political Platform on Raypower FM.
According to him, “It is not about sealing. We did not just seal. You must understand that the police is a critical stakeholder in democracy within the framework of the Nigerian law and other extant laws.

“There were two conflicting court orders but the primary motive of the police is that there is peace and protection of lives and property. It is not the issue of A and B. It is not an issue of whether you are obeying A or B but you must be proactive in law enforcement because at the end of the day, the question you will be asked is; what did you do?”

“It is just like a simple scenario of conflict resolution where there are two contending issues, what do you do? You refer back to the status quo so that you can move forward and the status quo here is that we are maintaining security. That is our primary motive and we are not taking sides. We cannot take sides in this issue. We are like referees.

Awunah who admitted to be in possession of the two court restraining orders, added, “You know law enforcement and court decision are collaborative.
“We have the Attorney General; the court system and we have the police. Don’t forget, we are the lead agency in internal security and when it comes to democratic set up, the police is number one.

“So, when you have such scenario, you need to consult and you don’t consult by a button, you don’t consult by just tapping a button and having an answer”.

When asked what the outcome of the consultation was, Awunah said the police were still consulting with the view to ensuring peace in Port Harcourt, stressing that democracy has become a bit volatile in the state.
On why the venue was sealed off without informing the party leaders, the Force spokesman said it was informed by the suddenness of the court order.

“Even the court orders caught Nigerians unawares. You don’t plan anything. So, we are just being proactive. If we sense a situation that can create anarchy and disorder or disrupt social production, what do you do? You have to be proactive. It is not about catching people unawares.

“You evaluate situations. It can burst like a bubble and you don’t have to wait for people to start throwing stones. That is all about proactive policing. You have to move from the traditional concept of reacting to situations to being proactive so that you will be able to dominate, control and facilitate democracy, which is what we are doing.

“In security matters, there is no crystal ball to see into the future, you predict and project likelihoods and you plan and do proactive policing. And this is within the confines of the law.

“It is about law enforcement and it has shifted traditional reactive concept to more proactive concept because democracy in Nigeria today, you cannot predict what can happen in the next minute.

“People could be in their homes and hideouts planning violence. So, you have to be able to control and dominate the area. Now, Sharks Stadium is the epicenter of democratic process in Port Harcourt or the PDP, so to speak and of course, you must appreciate that there were two warring factions. So, they need to resolve.

Awunah said the police did not act on “orders from above”, but acted within the framework of the law.
He said; “We work according to laws. You see, you need to work according to your function as spelt out in the laws of this country. We are the lead agency as long as internal security is concerned and when it comes to evolving democracy like we have today, we are the lead agency. We are part of the democratic processes.

On whether the police implemented Justice Okon Abang’s order, the Force spokesman retorted, “Whoever you talked to is politicking and we don’t politick. In as much as we are critical stakeholders in political process, we are insulated from partisan politics.

“What we are doing is doing our professional job to ensure that these two factions resolve. It is about conflict resolution.”

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