By Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has dragged the Inspector General of Police (IG) to court over constant harassment, intimidation, arrest and detention of PDP members across the state.
In suit no HU/FHR 18/19, filed at the State High Court, Uyo, January 31, 2019, the PDP and 21 other chieftains of the party also joined the State Commissioner of Police and the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The applicants are seeking an order for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights to freedom of expression, movement, peaceful assembly and association as well as personally liberty.
They are also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, either acting alone or in concert with one another from violating the enjoyment of applicants’ fundamental human rights.
The applicants are equally demanding an order for the respondent jointly and severally to pay the sum of N100 million being punitive damages for breach of fundamental rights.
In the reliefs sought, the applicants are seeking a declaration that they are entitled to enjoy the rights of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of movement, freedom from discrimination, expression as guaranteed under section 40, 41, 42 and 39 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
Lead counsel to the applicants, Sam Ikpo, argued that the practice of arresting and detaining the applicants and others by the IG and the state Commissioner of Police on the basis of phantom allegations by the APC amounts to breach of the 1999 constitution as well as the African charter on Human’s and People’s Right Act.
Ikpo averred that the APC is using the IGP and the Police Commissioner by way of phantom allegations to instigate the illegal arrest, detention, torture and frame-up members of the PDP with sinister intention of keeping them out of circulation during the electioneering period to secure for themselves undue advantage in the general elections.
“The applicants have received credible intelligence that during the build up to the general election, buses branded as 22nd applicant (PDP) buses, vehicles bearing state government number plates will be loaded with arms and occupied by some criminals, heading to the 3rd respondent (APC) rally.
“On approaching, the buses and their occupants will be arrested and the contents of the buses displayed for all to see a major security breakthrough.
“Additionally, the criminals will mention some 22nd (PDP) applicant top shots as their financiers, necessitating their arrest and subsequent prosecution under the Anti-terrorism Act.
“This plot which is hatched and sponsored by the opposition, 3rd respondent (APC), is aimed at arresting and incarcerating our key leaders and keeping them away from circulation throughout the elections.
“In the past few weeks, the leadership of the applicants has been inundated with calls from different parts of the state, where it supporters have been wantonly arrested and incarcerated without any lawful justification.
“In Essien Udim, many of our members have been arrested and detained for over two weeks without being charged to court.
“In Nsit Atai, our members are slammed with grave charges, just to cause the court to deny them bail. In Nsit Ibom, one of our members was stabbed by a member of the 3rd Respondent (APC) in front of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and till date the assailant has not been called in for questioning and arrested.” Ikpo stated.
The PDP State Chairman, Paul Ekpo in a 23 paragraph affidavit in support of motion, added that having exposed the initial conspiracy, the Respondents subsequently changed their plans to a new one where a brand bus with the image of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as Obong Nsima Ekere and his Deputy; thereafter they will load the bus with about seven imposters.
“That along the road, they will ask about five men to alight the vehicle and spray some with live bullets. The five men will run away leaving behind two men in the bus.
“That thereafter, the 1st and 2nd (IGP and State Commissioner of Police) respondents will come in a Police Hilux truck and stage manage and arrest of the two found in the bus.
“That they will now interrogate the arrested men under media camera and ask them to name their sponsors and master minds under duress.
“That in full public glare, this two men will now mention 14th -21st Applicants, then the 1st and 2nd Respondents will proceed to arrest the 14th -21st Applicants and transfer them to Abuja for detention until the elections are over.
“That this plot which is hatched and sponsored by the opposition, 3rd Respondent, is aimed at arresting and incarcerating the key leaders of the 22nd (PDP) Applicant and keeping them away from circulation throughout the election.” Ekpo stressed.