Nzuko Umunna received with shock and dismay the alleged Gestapo-style arrest and manhandling of the spokesman of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), Barrister Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere.
We are deeply concerned by the allegation by Ugochinyere’s lawyers that he is being tortured and held in dehumanizing conditions. These acts clearly breach his constitutional rights to human dignity and freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.
We are particularly worried that his arrest and detention is in clear breach of a valid and subsisting order of Justice Othman Musa of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory which on June 3, 2020 in Suit No. FCT/HC/BW/CV/120/2020 barred the Nigeria Police Force and State Security Service (SSS) from arresting the CUPP spokesman in connection with any acts of the House of Representatives and its principal officers. This is unacceptable.
In an era where the spectre of serial disobedience of court orders is perhaps receding, this latest arrest is a major dent on any progress that has been made by the Federal Government in this regard.
It is noteworthy that modern democracies are built on rule of law and respect for individual rights and freedoms. A strong opposition is also a sine qua non to the sustenance of democratic governance. Nigeria cannot be an exception.
We are worried that instead of submitting itself to the jurisdiction of the court, the Nigeria Police Force has seemingly opted to boycott the court proceedings and resort to self-help. This is an unwholesome affront on our judicial system and an attempt to foist a fait accompli on the court. It is a recipe for anarchy.
We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu to order immediate and unconditional release of the CUPP spokesman, moreso as he has been detained beyond the mandatory constitutionally required maximum of 48 hours. In the alternative, the Nigeria Police Force should immediately arraign Mr. Ugochinyere before a competent court to answer to any charges.
We urge Mr. President to impress on the Nigeria Police Force the pressing need to redirect its energy towards the high level of insecurity that has virtually made Nigeria a failed state, with killer herdsmen and bandits holding the nation by the jugular while the security chiefs seem helpless.
Nzuko Umunna is an Igbo socio-cultural think tank with members both in Nigeria and the diaspora.