From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Hundreds of women have taken to the streets of Ogoja, protesting what they described as the illegal arrest of their children by police authorities in Calabar, the Cross Rivers capital.
Two days ago, the state’s Police Command drafted a crack team of personnel to Ogoja and in the process arrested over 30 youths, all of Sen Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe’s supporters, for allegedly destroying All Progressives Congress (APC) billboards in Ogoja.
Police were said to have acted on a petition written by APC leadership accusing PDP supporters of destroying their billboards.
A source said on arrival at Ogoja, the Police team raided some joints, burial venues and shops and arrested some of the suspects, mostly Jarigbe’s die-hard supporters.
Piqued by the indiscriminate arrest and inhuman treatment meted out on their children, the Cross River North Women, in the early hours of Wednesday, stormed the streets of Ogoja protesting incessant intimidation and arrest of their children, demanding their immediate release unconditionally.
The women numbering hundreds carried placards with inscriptions with captions such as: “Bring back our children” “billboard no dey win election,” “Respect our human rights;” “Election no be war;” “We say no to Police brutality” and “Release our children.”
Speaking, the spokeswoman of the group, simply identified as Madam Grace Agang, said: “We are women from Ogoja, Yala and Bekwara who have come together to protest over the arrest of our children.
“We are not here for any political party but for the sake of our innocent children that were unlawfully arrested.
“If they are born of a woman, they should bring our children. We have done well and good things for the Ayade-led administration and if the government says they don’t want to recognise us or want to pay us with evil, we too don’t know them and have rejected them.”
“Let them should bring our children. All the violence and killings they are planning, we are waiting. Let them come and kill all of us. Please stop the arrest of our children and release those already arrested unconditionally.”
Meanwhile, the Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Erasmus Ekpang, said the arrests were based on a complaint lodged by the ruling party, adding that the arrest was not directed at the PDP members as some of their members were also among those arrested by the police.
“The police made random arrests and I can tell you that some children of our members were among those arrested,” he said.
The spokesperson of the state Police Command, SP IreneUgbo, said, “When they bring the suspects, we will screen them and fish out the culprits and the innocent ones would be freed and those found culpable would be charged to Court.
“The police frowns at the destruction of billboards and we have earlier issued a statement to that effect.”
At the time of this report, police sources said that the team had withdrawn from Ogoja for Calabar.