The Peoples Democratic Party says the continued detention of Olisa Metuh, its spokesman, is not only illegal, it can also cause political unrest in the country
THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has warned the federal government against the continued incarceration of Olisa Metuh, its spokesman, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, since Tuesday, January 5, without charging him to court. The PDP said the action clearly showed the dictatorial character of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC federal government, which it said had not hidden its disdain for rule of law and an appetite to gag the opposition.
Besides, the party said the continued detention was in clear breach of Metuh’s constitutionally guaranteed liberty and fundamental rights.
The PDP in a statement signed by Victor Kwon, national legal adviser of the party, on Saturday, January 9, said that relying on a purported ‘holding charge’ said to have been derived from a magistrate to detain 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.
The statement said in part: “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 PDP said it was particularly worried that Metuh, since his arrest on Tuesday, January 5, its spokesman had been inhumanly kept in an underground cell where he was daily threatened by officials, who were “mounting pressure on him to accept guilt of fictitious figures and implicate the PDP leaders.”
The party, therefore, said: “The public is very much aware that the EFCC chairman has visited the Presidential villa at least twice since Chief 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 also warned that holding Metuh without trial could lead to avoidable tension and cause political crisis in the country. It noted that Metuh was arrested a few days after he confronted the federal government and the APC over their dictatorial pronouncements and actions.
While appealing to the government to follow due process on the matter, the PDP warned: “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.”
— Jan 11, 2016 @ 19:35 GMT