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Lawmakers Set To Summon Police Boss Over Human Rights Abuse, As Court Orders Release Of Journalist

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Lawmakers Set To Summon Police Boss Over Human Rights Abuse, As Court Orders Release Of Journalist

 

By Uchechukwu Ugboaja

An Abuja High Court on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of Editor of Elombah.com, Timothy Elombah, who has been in detention since January 1st, when he was arrested alongside with his brothers.

Justice Ajoke in her ruling directed the Nigeria Police to release Tim Elombah within 24 hours with a condition of one reasonable surety with N500,000 in like sum.

The Court took the decision following a suit on a fundamental Right Application and N1 billion damages against Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris and the Police.

It will be recalled that on Monday January 1st, 2018, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris ordered operatives of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad to invade the private family compound which housed the Elombah Brothers of Elombah.com, in Edoji, Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State.

Six persons, including Daniel Elombah (Publisher) and Tim Elombah (Editor); 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 the moment in Court, the brothers were not informed of the reason(s) for their arrests.

It was at SARS headquarters in Awkuzu, Anambra state that the brothers were handed over to another armed officials who were identified as being from Special Tactical Squad, S.T.S, a team that works directly in the office of the Inspector-General of Police, Idris. Tim 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 the brothers to hours of grueling interrogation regarding an article published in another blog called Opinion Nigeria, titled ‘IGP Ibrahim Idris’s Unending Baggage of Controversies”. The article in question was not published by the brothers’ website, Elombah.com, and they have 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.

However, 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. It was later gathered that the Police have prepared a Charge against the Elombah brothers and they would soon be arraigned.

It is shocking and alarming, to say the least, that the Inspector-General of Police deployed operatives of Special Police Squads like SARS and STS, which are primarily 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 the brothers  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.

Meanwhile the House of Representatives on Tuesday began investigation of Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim over unlawful arrest, detention of Tim Elombah , Editor of Elombah.com and Daniel Elombah ,publisher of Elombah.com over issues bothering on fundamental human rights abuse as characterised by the continuous incarceration of Timothy Elombah for the past 23 days..

The decision to investigate the matter was sequel to the petition written by Online PublishersAssociation of Nigeria of Nigeria (OPAN) which was presented on the floor of green chamber by Honorable Chris Azubogu (Nnewi North/Nnewi South/Ekwusigo Constituency), Anambra State.

While presenting the petition, Azubogu told the Green chamber that for the past 23 days Inspector General Of Police (IGP) has detained Tim Elombah and Daniel Elombah unlawfully despite expiration of the detention order.

He also explained how the Special Anti-robbery Squad operatives stormed the family compound and arrest six males found in the house, handcuffed and bundled them into their patrol vans.

He said,” It is very instructive that the Police took Tim to Mpape Area Court requesting to be granted 14 days to conclude their investigations. On looking at the facts, the court rejected the 14 days but graciously granted Police seven days.

“Unfortunately, after 22 days, Tim Elombah is still in detention and his elder brother, who is the publisher of Elombah.com is on police administrative bail but cannot travel back to London where he resides with his family as the police insisted that he should not travel out of Abuja.

 

This story is originally credited to Daniel Elombah Publisher In Chief of Elombah.com

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