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RIVERS PDP CRISIS: HURIWA ASKS PRESIDENCY TO RELEASE POLITICAL PRISONERS

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The Inspector General of Police Mr. Mohammed Dikko Abubakar has been upbraided by a Democracy inclined Non-Governmental Organization- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] for the police biased intervention in the factional infighting tearing the Rivers state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] apart by arresting some local chapter leaders of the party and unilaterally transferring them to the nation's capital to face trial in a Chief magistrate court in Abuja which lacks territorial jurisdiction over alleged politically- motivated trumped up charges and their subsequent detention at the Kuje medium security Prison in Abuja for several days after their arrest.

HURIWA also faulted the 'harsh' bail conditions granted the duo by the trial Chief magistrate Court which ordered that they be only released when two sureties signed their bail bonds and that one of the sureties be a resident in Abuja, one of whom must be a level 12 civil servant with a landed property in Wuse zone 6 Abuja where the court is located. The magistrate court also slammed N1 million bail to each of the accused persons.

The Rights group said some of the conditions may be unattainable given that the duo are said to be loyal to the River state Governor who is said to be having political differences with President Jonathan who is the defacto 'Governor' of the Federal Capital Territory. The Rights group said it may be impossible for a top level civil servant in Abuja to risk his career by accepting to take any of the political prisoners into bail. HURIWA said since bail was within the discretion of the presiding magistrate, the defendants would have been granted bail on liberal grounds given the political scenario that characterized their arrest and prosecution by the Nigerian Police Force. The statement by HURIWA was made after a team of top officials of the organization embarked on an advocacy visit to the Kuje prison at the weekend.

The Rights group in a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, named the political prisoners of conscience as Mr. Charles Amaefule, the PDP local chapter chairman in Omuma Local Government Area council of River sate [allegedly loyal to Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi] and the party's state factional assistant Secretary Mr. Godwin Leo [also said to be loyal to the River state governor who is at loggerhead with President Goodluck Jonathan over sundry issues linked to the rumored second term ambition of the current President and the uncertain but rumored Vice Presidency ambition of the Rivers state governor].

Besides, the Rights group faulted the decision of the nation's police hierarchy to round up only suspected members of the PDP's faction loyal to the Rivers state Governor in the House of Assembly for their ignominious role in the fracas that broke out in the Rivers state House of Assembly which led to the take over of the Rivers state House of Assembly by the National Assembly when it was clear to every discerning members of the public that there were two groups of persons involved in the alleged breach of peace in the Rivers state House of Assembly Complex in Port Harcourt.

HURIWA warned the nation's police hierarchy that the partisan role that the Police has played so far in the ongoing political crisis in the oil rich Rivers state has adversely affected the public image of the Nigerian Police Force as an institution that is used to serve the whims and caprices of the powers-that-be in the nation's capital- the seat of federal political power. HURIWA particularly faulted the not so neutral role played by the state commissioner of police in Rivers state in the entire political scenario just as the group faulted the failure of the Inspector General of Police to transfer the said police commissioner Mr. Mbu even when the two chambers of the National Assembly issued directive for his transfer out of Rivers state.

Specifically, the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS SSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] faulted the arrest of Mr. Charles Amaefule, the PDP factional local council chairman in Omuma Local Government Area of River state for allegedly issuing a media statement in which he allegedly cautioned and threatened to order the recall of a member of the five members of the embattled Rivers state House of Assembly over his alleged role in the fracas that broke out in the House of Assembly complex in Port Harcourt.

The said House of Assembly member was alleged to have threatened the life of the River state Governor M. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. The Rights group stated that the police was biased to have arrested Mr. Amaefule and charged him before the Chief Magistrate court in far away Abuja for alleged impersonation and acts capable of breaching public peace when it was apparent that the said local politician was simply exercising his fundamental human right to freedom of speech and political association which are protected and guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 [as amended]. The Rights Group has therefore urged President Goodluck Jonathan to order the release from detention of these political prisoners of conscience and also to direct that the hierarchy of the nations police comply with constitutional provisions by not making themselves available to be used as instruments of political oppression and intimidation of perceived rivals of the Abuja authority.

HURIWA stated thus; "The Nigerian Police Force has actively become partisan and biased in the ongoing political debacle in Rivers state between factions of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] loyal to the Rivers state Governor and President Jonathan respectively. It is unconstitutional for the police operatives to arrest some factional members of the party for simply belonging to the faction loyal to the governor of Rivers state and transferring them to Abuja to face charges of alleged impersonation in a clear case of harassment and intimidation of political opponents of the Presidency. The Nigerian Police Force has seriously bruised her already battered public image by soiling its hand and clearly taking side with the Presidency in this political battle even when the Nigerian Police Force ought to remain politically neutral and only loyal to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Nigerian people who are the owners of the sovereignty of Nigeria as stated unambiguously in section 1 of the Constitution."

HURIWA recalled that an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court in Wuse Zone 6 had on Thursday granted bail to the two members of the PDP in Rivers state- Mr. Charles Amaefule and Godwin Leo. The Court had on Tuesday ordered that they be remanded in Kuje Prison after their arraignment for offences allegedly relating to impersonation and acts capable of breaching public peace. They were accused by the Police of making false claim to the leadership of the party in Rivers state. But HURIWA faulted the involvement of the Nigerian Police Force in a political crisis and partisan infighting when it is not the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] which is the only legal institution recognized in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for determining and keeping records of the authentic leadership of all registered political parties in Nigeria.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Onwubiko and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Emmanuel Onwubiko