Leading Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked for the disbandment of the recently inaugurated EBUBEAGU Security Network in Ebonyi State following a rash of violent attacks launched on leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ebonyi State.
HURIWA has also called on the Inspector-General of Police Alhaji Usman Alkali Baba and the Director-General of the state security Services (DSS) Alhaji Yusuf Magaji Bichi to investigate without delay the alleged threats to the lives of leaders of the Ebonyi State Chapter of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and to specifically ensure that the life of the former member of the Federal House of Representatives from Ebonyi State and a leading light in the Ebonyi State’s chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party Representative Linus Okorie is not imperilled or endangered following credible threats against him made by the EBUBEAGU SECURITY NETWORK in Ebonyi State.
HURIWA in a media statement authorised by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National director of media Miss Zainab Yusuf said the Ebonyi State government has constituted one of the worst threats to political pluralism in the Country just as the Rights group regretted that a statewide vigilante group set up purportedly for the protection of the lives and property of the good people of Ebonyi state is, unfortunately, being used for political vendetta and politically motivated violent attacks targeting members of the political opposition in Ebonyi State.
HURIWA wants the EBUBEAGU security outfit in Ebonyi State disbanded since the Ebonyi State government allegedly has turned it into full-fledged armed political thugs of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Ebonyi State. The Rights group said the offices of the IGP and DG of DSS should activate mechanisms for the clinical investigation of all the violence unleashed on members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and even journalists for expressing contrary positions to that of the Ebonyi State government.
HURIWA said it is in receipt of a petition addressed to it by the former member of the Federal House of Representatives from Ebonyi State Honourable Linus Okorie in which he expressed fear that his life is facing imminent danger from the Ebubeagu security outfit in Ebonyi State following an announcement by the Ebonyi State government that he should be arrested for making a social media post critical to the government of Ebonyi State. The Rights group wonders how the exercise lawfully of the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedoms of expression and association are now criminalised in Ebonyi State under Governor Dave Umahi as if that State is not covered by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
HURIWA disclosed that in the petition titled ‘MY LIFE IS IN DANGER FROM GOV UMAHI’S EBUBEAGU OPERATIVES’, Representative Linus Okorie alleged as follows: “My attention has been drawn to some online reports of an alleged media briefing by the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information, Uchenna Orji, after what appears to have been a state security council meeting; in which he was reported to have announced that the Security Council declared one Linus Okorie wanted; an impugning that I am the one so declared wanted.
I wish to alert the world that this is another of the artful schemes of Governor Umahi to silence all opposition voices in Ebonyi state by criminalizing its high profile leaders, use Ebubeagu to kill me on the excuse that I was evading arrest and also a veiled excuse to close down CitiHub event centre which has long been the desire of the governor and his close aides and family members. It is also a ploy to distract attention from the Carnage that Ebubeagu has been wrecking on the people of Ebonyi state as symbolized by the riots and killings in Akaeze in the past few days. Governor Umahi is simply looking for a high profile scapegoat to take attention away from the many lives being lost to Ebubeagu operatives across the state, and he has chosen me using his State Security Council.
If indeed, such a decision was arrived taken by the Security Council, one would doubt that the police and other security agencies were represented at such a meeting. This is because it is the duty of the Nigerian Police to investigate crimes and invite all named suspects for interrogation and even when a suspect fails to honour an invitation, there is a clear procedure that must be followed before such a person can be declared wanted by the police and not any security council meeting.
Let it be known that I have never been invited to answer any allegations by the Nigerian Police or other security agencies anywhere in Nigeria.
Two, without so inviting me by the police, I cannot lawfully be declared wanted by any authority for such an alleged crime by the police or any other authority under the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Again, going through the excerpts of the media briefing, I find no particulars of the allegation levelled against me to warrant the defamatory declaration by the said state security council.
For the avoidance of doubt, the law demands that before making a Wanted Declaration on a public platform or any other for that matter, the police ought to obtain a warrant of arrest duly signed and endorsed by a competent court. The said warrant must also be presented at the point of arrest and in it, the particulars of the arrest ought to be spelt out. Where a person sought to be arrested makes a run for it or evades arrest, then a declaration informing the public of the accused person’s status may be made.
By implication of the above, where such an accused declared wanted is seen, the public (especially the Ebubeagu boys) is to assume that such a person is not just a wanted criminal, but also a potentially dangerous one. In effect, this declaration is an authority by the state government for Ebubaeagu to shoot me at sight, on the excuse that I “made a run for it”.
The serious implication of this presumption makes every deviation from the above process, as exemplified by this reckless declaration by the state security council, an abrogation of lawful processes, a clear indicator that the said agency (the State Security Council) seeks to appropriate to itself powers vested singularly in the courts and also a gross disrespect of my dignity of self, especially as I am neither on the run, in hiding nor have any knowledge of the summon, an invitation or intended arrest.”
Why impute that I am on the run or evading the police when the police had extended no formal invitation to me? Even a recruit in the employ of the police force can fault this spurious action of the Security Council in declaring me wanted just to create the opportunity for the Ebubeagu agents to attack and kill me on the excuse of executing an illegal declaration.
In summary, I have never been invited for questioning by the police for any crime at all. Even if I were so invited and had failed to attend, there is a lawful procedure through the courts to comply with before I could be declared wanted by the police, and not any security council meeting. Importantly, the media pronouncement of the declaration contained no particulars of the allegation against me so the public can make an informed assessment or I could offer a response.
Accordingly, I see in this wild declaration a plot by the state government to not only close my lawful business in the state but a ploy to unleash Ebubeagu operatives to kill me in the excuse that I was running away from arrest. These are all channelled towards silencing the opposition in the state by dealing a fatal blow on the major voice calling attention to the failings of the state government; especially the Ebubeagu security outfit.
Given all the inconsistencies of the so-called declaration by Uchenna Orji, I can only alert the world that my life is in extreme danger from Governor Umahi’s Ebubeagu operatives. Should anything happen to me going forward, all fingers must point back to Gov David Nweze Umahi.
Let me reassure all Ebonyians that even this shall pass. No matter the intimidation and executive contraptions against us, I remain committed to the struggle to rescue Ebonyi from the excesses of Ebubeagu, a security outfit that rather than protecting the people is now killing them. I will stand with the people of Ebonyi state to protect democracy, human rights and the personal dignity of all. I will remain steadfast to the cause of the Official Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Nigeria and the struggle to redeem the people from this suffocating high handedness. We are not all conquered!”
HURIWA has therefore asked the IGP and the DG DSS to swiftly carry out an investigation into the allegations against the EBUBEAGU SECURITY NETWORK and the officials of the Ebonyi state government for allegedly threatening the lives of politicians who are not of the All Progressives Congress in the State.