By Paul Okah Abuja
Following his assumption of duties on Monday, June 8, 2020, Ebonyi State residents have charged the new Commissioner of Police (CP), CP Philip Sule Maku, to “beware of being used by the state Governor, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, in intimidating journalists, political opponents and hapless residents”.
Maku, who hails from Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, is the 23rd CP of Ebonyi State Command, since the creation of the State in 1996 and replaces CP Awosola Awotinde, who retired on May 14, 2020, after attaining 60 years.
However, trending pictures of the new CP posing with Umahi have set tongues of Ebonyians wagging about the possibility of the new CP being used by the state governor to witch-hunt journalists and political opponents in the state, as was allegedly obtainable under the watch of the immediate past CP.
Expressing his concern in a Facebook post Tuesday evening, a journalist and editor of Conscience Newspaper, Mr Charles Otu, alleged that the immediate-past CP, Awotinde, had the dishonour of allowing himself to be used to arrest and detain journalists for performing their official duties and implored Maku not to tread the inglorious path, but aim to write his name in gold by combating insecurity and crime in the state.
He said: “The new Police Commissioner, Maku, is welcomed to Ebonyi State. He must, however, not allow himself to be used by the man beside him and Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi, the way he used his predecessors. The immediate-past CP, Awotinde, who recently retired, has nearly the greatest badge of dishonour in the minds of many; for ever allowing himself to be used to arrest and detain journalists for performing their official duties.
“His worst low was even his provocative reactions that the journalists’ reports were capable of causing insecurity and overheating the polity. The worst CP Awotinde could have done under the circumstance he found himself was to ask those who felt aggrieved to charge the reporters to court immediately.
“Arresting a journalist, because of a mere petition alleging libel or even sedition, is official high-handedness and it should have no place in our land, because the police is not a court of law to prove such. CP Maku, I believe, is an urbane gentleman officer and he should be thoroughly professional and not tilt towards dangerous influence.”
Similarly, another Facebook user, Ihedioha Osita Kingsley, alleged that CPs have always been a willing tool in the hands of state governor, expressing fears that the mere visit of Maku to Umahi has already created doubts in the minds of Ebonyians on his sincerity of purpose.
“You see them take pics together and you think he will not be used by the governor. He is already a tool in the hands of the governor and that’s how all police commissioners are to the chief executive of a state, apart from some federal interference,” he said.