Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court on Monday ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to produce a Bayelsa State governorship candidate, Vijah Opuama, in court on Wednesday.
The embattled politician, who contested the November 16, 2019, gubernatorial election in the state, has been in police detention since August 15.
Opuama, who was the candidate of the Liberation Movement (LM) party, was said to have been arrested by the police on 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.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, who issued the order, also directed the IGP to show cause why the detainee should not be released unconditionally.
The judge made the order after Opuama’s ex parte application was moved by his lawyer, Mr Michael Odey, on Monday.
He said that, although the veracity of the claims contained in Opuama’s application could not be verified until the police responded to them, it was of 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 ordered that the respondents (the IGP as the 1st respondent, and the Assistant Commissioner of Police heading the IGP’s Monitoring Unit, as the 2nd defendant) ‘shall show cause why the applicant should not be released unconditionally.’
The judge also ordered that ‘the applicant shall be produced in court on Wednesday, September 2, 2020.’
In a supporting affidavit, the wife of the politician, Ebikoboere Amaebi, deposed that she was with the governorship candidate at Wuse Zone 6, Magistrates 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, 2020.
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.’
She added: ‘I have been losing blood since then and I am apprehensive that I may lose 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 noted that with the arrest, her husband ‘who is entitled to be in the tribunal to participate and listen to the judgment in his case could not be allowed to participate in the proceedings of that August 15, 2020 before the Election Petition Tribunal.’