STATEMENT BY LAWYERS IN DEFENCE OF DEMOCRACY (LDD) ON THE INVASION OF OFFICE, VANDALIZATION OF OFFICE EQUIPMENT, CARTING AWAY OF PROPERTY AND ARREST OF BARR. IKENGA IMO UGOCHINYERE AND TWO OTHERS BY OFFICERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE SERVICES ON THURSDAY 22ND DECEMBER, 2016.
In the early hours of Thursday 22nd December, 2016 officers of the Department of State Services stormed the private law office of BARR. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere in Area 11 at about 2am. They came in their infamous Gestapo style breaking doors and shooting indiscriminately.
They left after about four hours of vandalizing all the office equipment in the office and made away with several laptops, a desktop, all case files in the office, a safe, materials for a peaceful rally scheduled to hold later thatThursday morning, several other documents from the office yet to be ascertained and also took along with them Barr. Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, Mr. Emeka his driver and Mr Ugochukwu Apuamaga.
The proposed rally by the LDD was to urge the security agencies to wake up to their responsibility of protecting lives and property especially during elections and cease to give citizens the impression that they were partisan. It sought also to cause a reawakening for free and fair election in our country as the nation looks towards 2019 general election. This rally had emphasis on Rivers State as election had been marred by allegations of involvement by security forces in the rigging of elections.
It will also be recalled that an obviously sponsored group heavily guarded by the Police had held a rally in Abuja on Tuesday 20th December, 2016 to heap praise on the security forces and condemn the people of Rivers State and blame them for the violence without calling out all party leaders including the National Chairman of the ruling APC Chief John Odigie Oyegun, Minister of Transport Chibuike Amechi, Governor of Kano State Umar Ganduje and all others who publicly called for violence in the election.
Our proposed rally was to put the narrative straight and demand that the lives of DSP Alkali Mohammed and all others who died during the election should not be in vain and things must be done right. We also worried why the media was awash with reports of a probe panel by the Inspector General of Police to probe only an audio tape of the alleged voice of Governor Wike without probing the printing of fake election materials, probing the several allegations of Police involvement in electoral malpractice including the video allegations by an INEC staff that a Police officer burst open his head and the death of Solomon Okonta, the Corps member who died in the earlier rerun. The Inspector General of Police while serving as Commissioner of Police in Kano State did not act with dispatch to unravel the real cause of the mysterious fire outbreak that wiped out the family of the Kano State REC immediately after the 2015 election.
These were the patriotic views we held and had written letters to the Inspector General of Police, the Chairman of INEC, Chairman National Human Rights Commission, UK & US Embassies, the National Assembly and other places where the march was going to get to. The DSS packed all these letters and should release them to the world to see there was nothing violent about the rally. In fact many lawyers indicated willingness to join in the march freely because the objectives were noble. They were not hired and could not have been hired. Hence we view the attempt to drag the names of the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike as sponsors of the proposed rally as a failed attempt to hide their obvious partisanship and lack of credible intelligence.
The DSS was obviously embarrassed by our earlier rally after they invaded the houses of judges and could not stand yet another opinion changing rally by lawyers to defend Nigeria’s democracy. They know that this is a clear case of intimidation, an attempt to stifle free speech and freedom of assembly and indeed a return of Nigeria to the dark ages of kokoma democracy of 1983.
We are law abiding citizens, if only the DSS had known that the LDD had a new coordinating Chairman and that Barr. Ikenga had since been replaced they may not have seen this as yet another opportunity to force him out of office as President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria.
The DSS would have rushed to Court if they had any credible evidence linking Ikenga and other detainees to any violence or attempt to disrupt governance in Abuja as they alleged. They have failed to show the world the materials they ceased three days after Their invasion. Their failed attempt during his previous one month unlawful detention to coerce Ikenga into the Nasir Elrufai-Chibuike Amaechi presidential ticket come 2019 is the only reason he must be forced out of office as Youth Council President. If he had agreed to join the ticket as a foot soldier, all these travails would not be coming his way.
We finally demand that the DSS immediately release Ikenga (their claims to not having him falls flat on its face) and the other two persons in their custody before Wednesday else we shall approach the Court to enforce their rights. The failure of the DSS to obey the order of Court to apologise to Ikenga and pay him N20 Million Naira in damages, will not make us lose faith in the courts of the land.
Nigeria is a democracy and institutions of state must operate within the tenets of democracy and intimidation, harassment, incarceration and pulling down of doors in the middle of the night is not part of that.
God bless Nigeria and complements of the season to all Nigerians.