Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola yesterday expressed displeasure over the arrest, detention and consequent deportation of 29 Osun State leaders of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) from Lokoja, Kogi State by the police.
The governor’s spokesman, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon said in a statement: “The ACN leaders were travelling in a bus belonging to the Office of the Governor, Osun State. They were arrested on the Niger Bridge in Lokoja, allegedly on the orders of Kogi State Commissioner of Police Mr. Amanana Abakasanga. The ACN men were travelling to Abuja.
Abakasanga allegedly detained the 29 ACN leaders in Lokoja till yesterday when he dispatched an armed escort to deport them to Okene to ensure that they did not make their trip.
The men were then directed by Governor Aregbesola to insist on their fundamental right of freedom of movement by resuming their Abuja bound journey.
According to him, as soon as the ACN men got to Niger Bridge the second time, they were again stopped by the Police.
When the news of the arrest was received by Aregbesola, he contacted the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, who denied issuing the order to arrest, detain and deport the ACN leaders from Kogi State.
The statement reads: “When news reached Governor Aregbesola in Abuja on Tuesday that the men were still prevented from embarking on their onward journey to Abuja, he called the Kogi Police Commissioner to complain on the infringement on the rights of these men to move freely in their country and demanded that the Police Commissioner respect the law without further delay.
Aregbesola spoke to the Kogi state police commissioner, he promised to release the men and allow them to proceed on their journey but he refused to honour his words by detailing a police team led by Mr. James Otai, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, to prevent them from passing through the Niger Bridge to Abuja.
The Osun State government, according to the statement, “takes serious exception at this flagrant violation of the 1999 Constitution by a police officer who is paid and commissioned to enforce the same law but has now chosen to flout it with recklessness.”
“The ACN leaders were not found with anything to suggest criminality while they committed no offence to warrant the shabby treatment they received from the police in Kogi State.
“We wonder where the police commissioner got the power to carry out the unlawful arrest of law abiding citizens, curtail their movement and deport them illegally from one part of their country to another.
“Nigerian should recall that this was how patriotic Nigerians who were on solidarity with the symbol of democracy then, were harassed and persecuted during the sham trial of M.K.O Abiola in 1993 in Abuja.
“It is equally noteworthy to draw attention to the fact that for over 100years that Lagos served as the seat of federal government this assault was never visited on any Nigerian.
“It is important for all citizens to note the totally appalling phenomenon of illegal prevention of citizen to freely visit Abuja which is a city of unity for all as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
“It is instructive to note that Vice President Namadi Sambo is visiting Osun State today while the same people whom he intends to meet have been treated as aliens in their own country by the Kogi State Police Commissioner. We wonder how the nation’s number two citizen expects the people of Osun State to receive him in their home state,” the statement said.