The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to produce before it on Wednesday a governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Vijah Opuama, who had been in detention since August 15, 2020.
Opuama, the Liberation Movement’s governorship candidate in the November 16, 2019, election in the state, was said to have been arrested by the police on the premises of the state’s Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja while waiting for judgment to be delivered on his petition challenging the outcome of the disputed poll.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo made the order directing the IG to produce him in court on Wednesday and also directed the police boss to show cause why the detainee should not be released unconditionally.
He gave the orders shortly after Opuama’s ex parte application was moved by his lawyer, Mr Michael Odey, on Monday.
The judge said although the claims contained in Opuama’s application could not be verified until the police responded to them, it was of concern that the police could detain the suspect beyond the constitutionally-permitted 24 hours without granting him an administrative bail or charging him with any offence before any court of competent jurisdiction, which he said were many in Abuja.
He, therefore, ordered that the respondents (the IG as the 1st respondent and the Assistant Commissioner of Police heading the IG’s Monitoring Unit as the 2nd defendant) “shall show cause why the applicant should not be released unconditionally.”
The judge also ordered that “the applicant shall be produced in court on Wednesday, September 2, 2020.”
Opuama’s wife, Ebikoboere Amaebi, stated in the affidavit filed in support of her husband’s application that she was with the governorship candidate at Wuse Zone 6 Magistrates’ Court, Abuja, venue of the tribunal’s sitting, waiting for the judgment to be delivered in his case, when “some unidentified men” violently arrested him on August 15, 2020.
She said her inquiry drew the fury of the men, whom she said hit her “hard” and caused her “severe pain, anguish and suffering.”
She added, “I have been losing blood since then and I am apprehensive that I may lose my pregnancy over that kick by the police officers that came to arrest my husband, the applicant.
“The applicant was arrested that day and whisked away by the police officers, who we later understood were from the office of the 2nd respondent and directly instructed by the 1st and 2nd respondents to effect the arrest.”
Amaebi said her husband was only later told that he was arrested over “a petition written against him for recording a phone call” received by him “sometime back from a caller (08029579959), who identified himself as Benson Agadaga, Chief of Staff.”
Denying the allegation, Amaebi maintained that “there is no offence known to the law as recording a phone call received from a caller.”
She said her husband had, since his arrest, not been charged with any offence and that his lawyer had applied to the IG for his bail, but was not even dignified with a reply.