Paul Osuyi, Asaba
An Asaba-based human rights activists, Mr Harrison Gwamnishu said he has concluded plans to institute a fundamental rights enforcement action against the chairman of Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State, Mr Uche Osadebe, over an alleged assault, brutality and attempted kidnap.
Gwamnishu told our correspondent in Asaba that he was allegedly assaulted and brutalised by agents of the council chairman while recording a scene in which the council taskforce members were effecting the destruction of moulded blocks at a private block industry in Asaba.
He alleged that the council’s task force smashed the mobile handset he had been using to record the incident, removed a laptop from his car and even attempted to allegedly kidnap him from the police station, where he had gone to report the matter, on the orders of Mr Osadebe.
Gwamnishu, who is the founder of Behind Bars Human Rights Foundation, said 13 persons initially pounced on him, adding that another eight men came to the police to unsuccessfully take him away.
“About 13 of them had pounced on me, beating me from all angles. I was calling for help but people were just watching without intervening. Somebody who was at the front of my car was recording the incident, they also pounced on her and attempted to seize her phone. They opened the back door of the car and removed my laptop before they entered their car and escaped,” he alleged.
In a swift reaction, the council chairman, Mr Osadebe denied that his men assaulted Gwamnishi, adding that the activist had been poking his nose into a matter that does not concern him.
Osadebe admitted that his men went to the block industry to effect a clean up of the area on the orders of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, disclosing that an eviction notice was served on the operators since September last year.
“I don’t know what happened between him and my boys because he was passing on the road before they started fighting each other. He himself called me and started insulting me.
“It was none of his business because he feels he is a human rights activist. Nobody assaulted him, he should face his business, that you are a human rights activist does not make you to be above the law,” the council boss fumed.
Regardless, Gwamnishu’s counsel, Favour Ajuebor, said the fundamental rights of his client has been breached by agents of the council chairman and vowed to institute legal action.
Ajuebor said a civil petition against the council boss will be forwarded to the state governor, the state House of Assembly and the Local Government Service Commission for alleged breach of client’s rights, adding that a criminal petition will also be forwarded to the state police command.
“They came to the station to attempt to kidnap my client, they did everything to try to murder him, it is attempted murder. We are instituting a fundamental right action at the high court to enforce his rights that were infringed upon as enshrined in the Constitution and the African Charter on Human Rights.
“We will write a criminal petition to the CP, and a civil petition to the governor and copy the House of Assembly and the LG service commission.
“His action is unbecoming of a chief security officer at the LG level. He should take responsibility for the actions of his agents and see how he can resolve issues amicably. As an executive chairman, his primary duty is to protect lives and property of every citizen, and ensure that the welfare of citizens are properly met,” Ajuebor noted.