Joe Effiong, Uyo
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) alongside 21 persons in Akwa Ibom State have dragged the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to court demanding N100 million damages, for allegedly plotting to arbitrarily arrest and put away their members on trumped up charges until after the election.
Joined in the suit no HU/FRU18/2019 which the Akwa Ibom State PDP chairman, Obong Paul Ekpo, is also an applicant are the state Commissioner of Police as well as the rival All Progressives Party (APC).
The applicants are seeking as reliefs in the suit filed in the Akwa Ibom State High Court, Uyo, a declaration that they and all members of PDP in the state are entitled to enjoy the right to peaceful assembly and association guaranteed under Section 40 of the 199 Constitution as well as Articles 11 and 13, respectively of the African Charter of Human Right and Peoples Rights.
They are also asking the court to declare that the practice of arresting and detaining them by the police on the basis of phantom allegations by the APC, amounts to a breach of the 1999 constitution as well as the African charter of human and people’s Right Ratification and Enforcement Act.
Also in their series of reliefs is a court declaration that they and all members of the PDP are entitled to the rights of freedom of movement, freedom from discrimination and freedom of expression as guaranteed by the 1999 constitution, but which their select arrest and detention run fowl of the said constitution.
Explaining the grounds for seeking the reliefs, the PDP and others said APC was using the police ‘by way of phantom allegations to instigate the illegal arrest, detention, torture and frame-up of members of the PDP herein with the sinister intention of keeping them out of circulation during the electioneering period to secure for themselves undue advantage at the forthcoming general election.
The applicants said they “have received credible intelligence that during the build-up to the general election, buses branded as PDP, vehicles bearing the state government number plates, would be loaded with arms and occupied by some criminals, heading for the APC rally.
“On approaching, the bus and their occupants would be arrested and the contents of the buses displayed for all to see a major security breakthrough. Additionally, the criminals would mention some PDP top shots as their financiers, necessitating their arrest and subsequent prosecution under the Anti-terrorism Act.
“This plot which is hatched and sponsored by the opposition, APC, is aimed at arresting and incarcerating our key members and keeping them away from circulation throughout the elections.
“In the past few weeks, the leadership of the PDP has been inundaunted by calls from different parts of the state where its supporters have been wantonly arrested and incarcerated without any lawful justification.
“In Essien Udim, many of our members have been arrested and detained for over two weeks without being charged to court,” the PDP said.
The applicants therefore asked for a perpetual injunction restraining the respondents, either acting alone or in concert with one another from violating the enjoyment of their fundamental human right in the manner so stated.
They are also seeking an order from the respondent to jointly and severally to pay the sum of N100 million being punitive damages for breach of their fundamental rights