The All Progressives Congress, APC, has condemned the arrest and continued detention of one of the party’s leaders in Edo State, Joe Okojie, after a court of competent jurisdiction issued an order for his release.
In a statement on Friday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party demanded Mr. Okojie’s immediate release, without condition, in accordance with the court order. It added that transferring him to Abuja, as being speculated, would signal that the PDP government had finally decided to substitute the rule of law with arbitrary rule, with grave prognosis for the nation’s democracy.
It wondered why the police, created to enforce the law and protect lives and property, would be so comfortable violating the same law.
The APC said Mr. Okojie was arrested, along with other party members, by a serving police officer in Lagos State, Patrick Ejedawe, who was one of the over 1,000 out-of-town policemen drafted to Esan North East LGA of Edo State for the October 22 election in the council.
Mr. Okojie was alleged to have arranged for party members to steal ballot papers and thumb print same secretly. But the party argued that he had been at the scene of his arrest, trying to help secure the release of APC members hounded into a truck by the police for not having ID cards.
The party said, ”While others were released, Okojie was transferred to Benin – on orders from above – where he was detained. After all efforts to secure his release failed, an action predicated on the fundamental human rights was then filed Thursday in a Benin High Court and the court ordered his immediate release pending investigation and adjourned the case to 4 Nov. 2013.
”The order was served on the Edo State Commissioner of Police before the close of business Thursday, but up till the time of issuing this statement, he has not been released. This is impunity at its worst and a slap on the face of justice.”
APC expressed shock that a citizen’s right would be violated on the basis of “orders from above”, when Nigeria was running a democracy based on constitutional order and the rule of law.
”What does ‘order from above’ mean? Does it mean the Inspector General of Police of PDP leaders? We ask because the only reason 1,000 policemen were deployed for an election in just one local government council (without any request from the State Government or the State Electoral body) is that the Chairman of PDP’s BOT, Chief Tony Anenih, hails from that LGA. Is he the one behind the ‘order from above’ mantra?” the APC said.
”Is it true that Okojie is being pressured to denounce APC before he can be released? Has the Nigeria Police now become the PDP and Anenih Police? Is this the contribution that the Nigeria Police want to make to Nigeria’s democracy?”