Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has accused the government of Ebonyi State led by Dave Umahi of allegedly using armed thugs in collaboration with the Ebonyi State Police Command to harass, intimidate, physically brutalise, arbitrarily arrest and illegally detain political opponents especially members and leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
HURIWA expressed consternation that despite increasing cases of systematic attacks and violent abductions of some perceived political rivals of the Ebonyi State Governor by armed militia purportedly acting under the guise of the newly constituted civilian vigilante in Ebonyi State, the police rather than display professionalism and neutrality and enforce the rule of law, has sided with the state government and has effectively become the official attack dogs used by the government to legitimise the violence unleashed on members of the PDP.
This was contained in a statement issued by HURIWA and obtained by PlatinumPost in Abuja on Sunday.
The rights group asked the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba to show leadership by activating internal mechanisms to investigate the growing numbers of cases of violence on people belonging to the PDP and media practitioners who are allegedly attacked either for their independent opinions which the governor allegedly finds unpalatable and uncomfortable or the state government perceive such persons as viable political opponents who might pose formidable opposition to its interest in any coming elections in the state or nationally.
HURIWA in the media statement authorised by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National director of media, Zainab Yusuf, specifically mentioned that it was made aware of some disturbing allegations of physical violence that are politically motivated said to have been perpetrated by organised armed thugs fronting as members of the Ebonyi State vigilante or EBUBEAGU “whose (alleged) sole duty is to violently abduct political opponents of the governor or to use intimidation and torture as tools to force these perceived opponents of the governor into silence or to leave the state.”
HURIWA disclosed some allegations in which the armed thugs and police of Ebonyi State were fingered as followed: “On the 91 of January, 2022, Mr. Nwoba Chika Nwoba the State Publicity Secretary of PDP was travelling in a car along Abakaliki – Enugu Express way in the company of Barr.Ifeanyi Emmanuel Nworie, when a sienna bus without registration number overtook their car and blocked them and a gang allegedly surrounded them, shooting sporadically in the air.”
HURIWA said “it was alleged that the aforementioned armed thugs then pulled out Mr. Nwoba from the car, beat him to a pulp and threw him into the boot of their sienna. Amidst the beating, shooting and pandemonium with heavy traffic buildup, Mr. Nworie was able to contact a nearby police patrol team which came to the scene and moved both the attackers andbvictims to the State Police Headquarters in Abakaliki. To everybody’s utter bewilderment, the attackers were allowed to go while the injured victims were detained by the police.
“Also, On December 29in 2021, an armed gang invaded the venue of a reception organized in honour of the newly elected State Chairman of PDP by his community at Okposi in Ohaozora Local Government Area. started heavy shooting in the air and people ran for their lives. The gang completely destroyed both chairs and canopies set up for the event and drove away unchallenged by the police men invited to provide security for the occasion.”
The rights group pointed to another allegation “that On December 26 2021, another gang tralled one Mr. Felix Nworogbo of Amagu community in Abakaliki Local Government Area to the outskirts of the town; shot him on the leg and hand and dumped him in a gutter just as on January 1 2022. Mr. Onyema Ugwu and Nwali Chimaobi, ward officers of PDP in Ezza South Local Government Area were abducted by yet another gang, tortured in their Ebubeagu den.”
HURIWA affirmed that the “IGP should as a demonstration of professionalism and respect for the rule of law, intervene to save Ebonyi State citizens from state sponsored terror just as the Rights group has canvassed the administrative intervention of the Independent National Electoral Commission to caution the Governor of Ebonyi State to allow for political pluralism in the state because the Nigerian Constitution is very clear in a plethora of provisions of the fundamental right guarantees in chapter 4 of the constitution including but not limited to FREEDOMS OF EXPRESSION AND ASSOCIATION.
“HURIWA has therefore issued an ultimatum to the IGP to transparently investigate cases of professional misconduct by the Ebonyi State Police Command in the interest of the image of the Nigerian Police Force, and the personal integrity of the IGP or the Rights group and dozens of her civil society organisations will take other legitimate measures to use the institutional Correctional mechanisms to expose, name, shame and to seek the dismissal of the indicted police operatives of the Ebonyi state Command colluding with political armed thugs to harass and attack the perceived political rivals of governor Dave Umahi.”
The rights group also called for the immediate release of Mr.
Chika Nwoba, the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP who is still in the custody of the police more than 48 hours after his abduction by an armed gang.