The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, ordered the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to produce Bayelsa State governorship candidate, Vijah Opuama, who has been detained by the police since August 15, before it on Wednesday.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who gave the order in an ex-parte application moved by his lawyer, Mr Michael Odey, on Monday, also directed Adamu to show cause why the detainee should not be released unconditionally.
While the IGP is the 1st respondent, the Assistant Commissioner of Police heading the IGP’s Monitoring Unit is the second respondent.
Opuama, the Liberation Movement’s governorship candidate in the Bayelsa November 16, 2019 election, was said to have been arrested by the police within the premises of the state’s Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja, on August 15, while waiting for judgment to be delivered on his petition challenging the outcome of the disputed poll.
The judge said the veracity of the claims contained in Opuama’s application could not be verified until the police responded to them.
He expressed concern that the police could detain the suspect beyond the constitutionally-permitted 24 hours period without granting him an administrative bail or charging him with any offence before any court of competent jurisdiction which he said were many in Abuja.
He therefore ordered that the respondents “shall show cause why the applicant should not be released unconditionally”.
The judge also ordered that “the applicant shall be produced in court on September 2, 2020.”
Opuama’s wife, Ebikoboere Amaebi, in the affidavit filed in support of her husband’s application, stated that she was with the governorship candidate at Wuse Zone 6, Magistrate Court, Abuja, venue of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, waiting for the tribunal’s judgment to be delivered in his case, when “some unidentified men” allegedly violently arrested him on August 15.
She said her inquiry about who they were and why they were molesting him also drew the fury of the men whom she said hit her “hard” and caused her “severe pain, anguish and suffering”.
“I have been losing blood since then and I am apprehensive that I may loose my pregnancy over that kick by the Police officers that came to arrest my husband, the applicant.
“The applicant was arrested that day and whisked away by the police officers who we later understood are from the office of the 2nd respondent and directly instructed by the 1st and 2nd Respondents to effect the arrest,” she added.
She noted that with the arrest, her husband “who is entitled to be in the tribunal to participate and listen to the judgement in his case could not be allowed to participate in the proceedings of that August 15, 2020 before the Election Petition Tribunal.”
Amaebi said her husband was only later told that he was arrested over “a petition written against him for recording a phone call” received by him “sometime back from a caller (08029579959) who identified himself in the phone as Benson Agadaga, Chief of Staff”.
Amaebi maintained that “there is no offence known to law as recording a phone call received from a caller”.
She said her husband had, since his arrest, not been charged with any offence and that his lawyer had applied to the IGP for his bail “but was not even dignified with a reply”.
She said her husband “is being persecuted for filing election petition before the Bayelsa State Governorship Election tribunal sitting in Abuja”, adding that his “arrest and detention” were “a calculated attempt to prevent him from campaigning and participating in the fresh Governorship election of Bayelsa State as ordered by the Election Petition Tribunal.”
Although Opuama’s petition was dismissed by the tribunal in the August 15 judgement, the election of Governor Duoye Diri, who is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was nullified with a fresh poll ordered to be held within 90 days by a subsequent judgment of the tribunal delivered on the petition by Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP) on August 17.
However, Diri has appealed against the tribunal’s judgement but the Court of Appeal in Abuja is yet to fix a date for hearing.