The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says the continued incarceration of its spokesman by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission without charging him to court, clearly shows the dictatorial character of the APC-led Government.
The party in a statement on Saturday condemned the detention of its spokesman and described it as the APC-led Federal Government’s disdain for the rule of law and an appetite to gag the opposition.
It said that the continued detention of Mr Olisa Metuh was in clear breach of his constitutionally guaranteed liberty and fundamental rights.
In the statement by its National Legal Adviser, Mr Victor Kwon, the opposition party stressed that relying on a purported ‘holding charge’ said to have been derived from a Magistrate to detain Mr Metuh beyond the statutory period allowed by the law was in total violation of the constitution and extant corresponding rulings by several trial and appellate courts in the country.
“We draw the attention of all Nigerians and the international community to this illegal clamp-down on the opposition spokesman by the EFCC, using a purported holding charge said to have been derived from a magistrate court.
“Holding charge which implies ‘arrest before investigation’ instead of ‘investigation before arrest’ is clearly an aberration and abuse of judicial process which has since been declared by several courts as illegal, null and void, and of no effect as it is totally in contradiction with section 35 (1), (4), (5a) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the statement read.
The PDP further expressed worries that Mr Metuh, since his arrest on Tuesday, was being inhumanly kept in an underground cell where he was daily threatened by officials, who it gathered, had been mounting pressure on him to accept guilt of fictitious figures and implicate some PDP leaders.
“Era Of Dictatorship”
“The public is very much aware that the EFCC Chairman has visited the Presidential villa at least twice since Mr Metuh was arrested and detained by the Commission, ostensibly to get further directives on the case.
“We invite the world to note that President Buhari’s election promise of fighting corruption has now been turned into a man-hunt of PDP leaders, while known corrupt APC leaders are being shielded by the system and rewarded with ministerial positions and other government appointments.
“Our nation is now being turned into a police state with its inherent constitutional violations and infringement on rights of citizens, a scenario which poses grave danger to national stability and survival of our democracy.
“The PDP strongly cautions against the avoidable tension and looming political crisis over the continuous clamp-down on our leaders and particularly, the continued incarceration of our spokesperson, Mr Metuh, who was arrested a few days after he confronted the Federal Government and the APC over their dictatorial pronouncements and actions.
“Our teeming members across the country have so far exercised reasonable restrain, but we caution that there is a limit to what they can stomach in the face of this brazen persecution of our spokesman. The President Buhari-led APC government and the EFCC should therefore hold themselves responsible should there be any breakdown of law and order in the land over this matter.
“We therefore reinforce our demand on the EFCC to respect the course of law and release Mr Metuh immediately or charge him to court in line with the provisions of our laws if it strongly feels it has a case against him.
“Nigerians cannot afford to return to the era of dictatorship where constitutional provisions, respect for lawful processes and personal freedom of citizens under the law are trampled upon. Their response to this might come with very dire consequences”, the statement further read.
A statement issued by the Special Assistant to Mr Metuh stated that he was arrested at his home by four officials of the EFCC at about 10:00am local and was taken away in an unmarked white Hiace bus.
The statement added that the officials told the opposition party’s spokesman that he was being invited on a friendly note to answer questions at the anti-graft agency’s headquarters in Abuja.