The continued incarceration of the 182 election observers, who were arrested in Imo State some days before the November 16 governorship election in Anambra State, has been described as totally inexplicable and unjustifiable by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party argued that the continued detention of the observers was wrong “even after INEC has publicly said they are duly certified election observers.”
The party in a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Abuja on Wednesday expressed shock at the “brazen contempt of court displayed by the police” when the observers were brought before a Magistrate on Monday.
It said even though the charges of conspiracy to commit misdemeanor, unlawful assembly and conduct likely to breach peace were bailable offences, the police acted “in such an irresponsible, unlawful and contemptuous manner” to ensure the suspects were not granted bail.
APC said, “Having brought the alleged suspects before a Magistrate, one would have expected that the Imo police command will allow the judicial process to follow its due course. Rather, men and officers of the police command acted in a manner that tainted the entire Nigerian police and called to question their motive for arresting the innocent observers in the first instance
“Just before the case was called, the police suddenly seized and took away some of the suspects. When this came to the knowledge of the lawyers representing the observers, they raised it with the presiding Magistrates, who ruled that the court will stand the matter down for two hours so that the remaining suspects could be produced before the court.
“Shockingly, the Officer in Charge (Legal) – acting on ‘orders from above’ – brought out his gun and ordered equally gun-wielding men to forcefully return all the accused to the police cell, and right in the presence of the presiding Magistrate and other lawyers, the suspects were taken away and were never returned, forcing the Magistrate to adjourn the case to December 6”.