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HAPPY New Year to everyone, especially you: this is a complaint, a petition and an appeal!
On March 28, 2014, a combined team of armed-to-the-teeth policemen, numbering 17, from Abia and Lagos state police com­mands, invaded my home in Aguda at 5 a.m. and carted away my Samsung handset (with a generous toll-free credit line from Globa­com—the next generation network— run­ning into thousands of naira).
Thereafter the plain-clothes invaders cal­lously abducted me en route to Umuahia, alongside with the handset and my newly acquired HP digital laptop. Both the handset and the laptop are still with the Abia State Police Command CID almost two years now.
The incident happened between 6.30 and 7 a.m. in the presence of my delectable wife and our two underage children. Luckily, their elders had returned to school. The cops identified themselves to me, and told me that some unnamed persons had written a peti­tion against me in Abia State. I was, there­fore, asked to follow them to the state, where I would be charged with sedition.
First, I was taken to Sholoki Police Station in Aguda, Surulere, and later to Oyingbo Po­lice Station and Jibowu, Yaba office of Abia Transport Line where a brand new bus was stationed en route to Umuahia in handcuffs! I do not recollect the last time I travelled by road to the East.
This issue should be put in context lest some hypercritics begin to say, “Can’t this guy for­get these items and buy latest versions.” That would amount to begging the question and al­lowing one’s rights to be trampled upon, es­pecially when the Federal High Court, Lagos, had given a damning ruling on the case, repro­duced below, as elucidation for the Inspector- General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, and the Police Service Commission (PSC). In my part of the country there is a saying that you do not become richer by throwing away the things you already have.
I must anticipatorily thank my ravishing colleague, sister, publisher of The Source irre­pressible magazine and commissioner on the PSC, Dame (Nwada) Comfort Obi, who has promised to intervene on my behalf ahead of this especial public appeal to the IGP and the PSC. I also extend this request to other mem­bers of the PSC and implore them to address the issue. If the items have vanished into thin air or disused, I will appreciate a replacement of equal contemporary technological soph­istry.
At the risk of immodesty, inasmuch as I have the robust capacity to buy hundreds of these appliances, it does not mean I should be wasteful by allowing some overreaching state functionaries to encroach on my inalienable rights as fundamentally enshrined in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and pro­fusely reaffirmed by the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
It is apposite to mention here that while the case lasted we did not ask for special damages for the ghastly infringement on my rights because my lawyer, the late Bamidele Aturu (May his soul rest in peace), did not subscribe to such bloody remediation. This ultimately became regrettable to Justice Abang Okong who was obviously disposed to awarding such a cost during his ruling, if only it had been demanded.
Now the report as published by The Sun of Monday, March 23, 2015, Page 12: “Jus­tice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has declared the bench war­rant issued against Associate Editor of The Sun, Mr. Ebere Wabara, by Abia State Mag­istrate’s Court illegal and unconstitutional.
“Justice Abang gave the verdict on Fri­day, March 20, 2015, while delivering judg­ment in the suit filed by Wabara and Onu­oha over the breach of their fundamental rights by the police. “Wabara instituted the suit against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Abia State Chief Magistrate Mr. John Ukpai and the Attorney-General (AG) of the state, Umeh Kalu, over his abduction by the police from Lagos to Abia State.
“After his release on bail at I0.I5 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, 2014, Wabara landed in hospital due to the ordeal he went through in the hands of his abductors. However, his illhealth did not stop the police from prefer­ring a 10-count charge bordering on sedi­tious publications against Abia State Gov­ernor, Theodore Orji.
“But delivering judgment in the suit which was filed and argued on behalf of the applicants by the late human rights activist, Bamidele Aturu, before his death, the court chided all the respondents, especially Gover­nor Orji and the Abia State Chief Magistrate, Mr. John Ukpai, for their roles in the illegal­ity.
“The action of the governor is barbaric, archaic, unconstitutional, undemocratic….” Justice Abang said.
A statement signed by the Managing Di­rector/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publish­ing Company Limited (now the Special As­sistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari);· Mr Femi Adesina, said the media house “sees the abduction of Mr. Wabara obviously on the orders of the Abia State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ad­amu Ibrahim, and perhaps under the further instruction of the state governor, Chief T. A Orji, as a throwback to the dark days of mili­tary dictatorship, when might was right, and the strong trampled on the weak.”
“It is unconscionable, repressive and flies in the face of all that are decent and civil. It has all the trappings of autocracy, rather than democracy.
If Mr Wabara infringed any law, we would have expected the police to invite him to answer questIons, and then charge him to court. The approach that has been adopted is Gestapo-like and unbecoming of those who instigated it.
“Those entrusted with the upholding of the law are not expected to trample on others. This is what the policemen from Abia State have done, and it runs contrary to the code of conduct for policemen as espoused by the Inspector-General of Police…It is simply de­spicable”, the statement stressed.
I rest my case on an optimistic note that the diligent IGP and the dispassionate PSC will grant my modest request and close this ugly chapter.