Sunday, 21 January 2018

Arrest of Journalists -Elombah brothers: Keyamo writes Buhari Open Letter


From Chuks Collins, Awka
Jan 19,2018

The popular human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), Mr Festos Keyamo has lambasted the Inspector General of Police(IGP) Idris Idris over what he described as high-handedness and abuse of office with the prolonged and detention of Mr Daniel and his sibling Timothy Elombah, the Publisher and Editor respectively of Elombah.com, a UK-based online news website.

In an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, copy of which was made available to our Corespondent, Mr Keyamo chronicled the event leading to the travails of the Elombah brothers thus, "On or about Jan 1,2018, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, caused the men and officers of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad to invade the family compound of our clients in Edoji,  Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State. 

"Six persons (including our clients, that is Daniel and Timothy Elombah)were arrested, handcuffed like common criminals and driven to the SARS office in Nnewi. They were subsequently taken to the SARS headquarters in Awkuzu, near Awka. Up till this point, our clients were not informed of the reason(s) for their arrests.

"It was at SARS headquarters in Awkuzu that our clients were handed over to other armed officers who identified themselves as being from Special Tactical Squad, S.T.S, a team that works directly in the office of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris. Our clients and one Izuchukwu Elombah were then taken all the way by road (and in handcuffs) to Abuja.

"It was in Abuja that the officers then subjected our clients to hours of grueling interrogation regarding an article published in another blog called opinionnigeria.com, titled "IGP Ibrahim Idris’s Unending Baggage of Controversies”. The article in question was not published by our clients’ blog, Elombah.com, and our clients denied any link to the author, one Ebiowei Dickson. Daniel and Izuchukwu Elombah were eventually released on bail, but have been made to report constantly since then".

According to Keyamo's letter dated Jan 15,2018, "...the Police got a Remand Order to detain Tim for seven days which expired more than a week ago and the Police are still holding Tim illegally. We now understand that the Police have prepared a Charge against our clients and they would soon be arraigned. 

"Your Excellency, it is shocking and alarming, to say the least, that the Inspector-General of Police deployed the officers and men of special police squads like SARS and STS, which are established to fight serious and violent crimes, to settle a purely private grievance with on-line journalists. If at all an offence was committed by the said published article (which is not conceded) a simple civil invitation to our clients would have sufficed. But to use such strong-arm tactics to reign in our clients was a gross abuse of his office and an employment of stone-age tactics in pursuing his personal grievance.

"He has further displayed his personal vendetta by refusing to release Tim Elombah long after the detention order has expired. This is one of the worst forms of abuse of human rights.

"Your Excellency, such practices should be clearly unacceptable under your watch. A situation where your appointees ride rough shod over innocent citizens or use the positions to which you appointed them to settle personal scores should, ordinarily, rankle you and cause you to intervene. 

"It should be more so as the substance of the matter has to do with the criticism of the personal life of a public officer by the Fourth Estate of the Realm, a practice that has come to be recognized as one of the components of a thriving democracy. If a public officer cannot tolerate or stomach harsh criticisms, he has no business occupying public office".

Believing that Mr President would intervene and act on his outcry by calling the IGP to order, the Senior Advocate stated that "it is in the light of the above we urge you to use your good offices to order an investigation into this crass display of power and indiscretion by the Inspector-General of Police and mete out appropriate sanctions against him, which may include the extreme step of relieving him of his position."

The arrest and prolonged detention of the Elombahs without being charged to court has triggered fears among journalists and lovers of democracy globally that Nigeria may have entered another era of impunity and jackboot security policy.

Daniel Elombah, a London-based attorney had come into the country with his wife and children for the Yuletide holidays. They were scheduled to return to UK on Jan 2,2018 for the children to resume school, himself and wife to resume work. But his arrest has truncated the family's programme and imperiled his job and the briefs of his clients already listed for hearing in courts.

Little wonder the fiery lawyer has brought the matters to fore for the benefit of the world, especially all Nigerians to join in the #Free the Elombahs# crusade and to discourage taking Nigeria back to the old ignoble era.



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