We condemn in totality the arrest of Chief Victor Umeh (former chairman of APGA political party) by the operatives of the DSS, reportedly for “sponsorship of Indigenous People of Biafra or IPOB”. Criminalization of Nigeria’s international and regional treaty rights by the Buhari Administration and use of same to haunt and hound citizens into arbitrary detention is a height of State terrorism in Nigeria and out rightly condemnable.
It is shocking and alarming that the Government of Nigeria which willingly acceded to these treaties rights and fully accepted their obligations as a “State party and their protector and enforcer” can turn around and resort to punishing its citizens for exercising and enjoying the same rights. Linking Chief Victor Umeh to the so called “sponsorship of IPOB”, is a height of political criminality and persecution on the part of the Government of Muhammadu Buhari. We have always maintained that social conviction leading to any nonviolent agitation for social or societal equilibrium is beyond what money can buy. It is conscientious and priceless!
Because Nigerian political leaders are rapaciously corrupt and immoral, they always believe that money answers all things. From our extensive investigations of the IPOB and its activities, it is found beyond any refutation that the group and its activities are internationally oriented with presence in over 80 countries including the brightest and darkest parts of the world.
The IPOB and its activities are also beyond the reach, influence and control and sponsorship of Nigerian politicians of Igbo extraction. What some, if not many of them and other Igbo political traders do is to go to Aso Rock, impersonate and gamble with what IPOB is doing with intent to defraud their hosts. But in reality, they do not have an iota of access to the group and its leaders, not to talk of “sponsoring their activities”.
The allegation of sponsorship of IPOB in non-existent in Nigeria and use of same to inflict political violence on innocent politicians of Igbo extraction should no longer be condoned; likewise politicians who take resort to same as their political weapons against their opponents.
We condemn all forms of political persecution in Nigeria under the Buhari administration.
While calling for immediate and unconditional release of Chief Victor Umeh, we also urge his camp to thread softly and avoid making questionable allegations or guess opinions directed at some persons. Our condemnation of the arrest of Chief Victor Umeh and call for his immediate and unconditional release is strictly on the basis of an allegation that “he is sponsoring IPOB in Nigeria”. This we found to be infantile, witch-hunting, ill-conceived and politically motivated.
But if the purpose of his arrest has to do with credible allegations of “commission of offenses related to corruption” or “street crimes” or traditional and non politically related crimes or offenses, then our advocacy sympathy for him will be very limited and restricted towards ensuring that he fully enjoys all his pre-detention and prosecutorial rights. We have held and still hold that all private, corporate and public citizens including politicians in Nigeria must stay away from “white collar (corruption)” and “street crimes”, and in the event any of them is arrested or summoned by the appropriate authorities, we shall throw our full weight behind their arrest or summoning provided it is done in accordance with the rule of law and respect for human rights.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
Mobile Line: +2348174090052
Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq.
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Mobile Line: +2348034186332
Chinwe Umeche, Esq., Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program