While Nigeria can be said to have laws and a binding constitution that citizens are expected to respect. Recent years have witnessed a surge in executive lawlessness, extrajudicial killings and growing abuses of human rights by the government and its officials.
One state that has continued to witness increase in these abuses in Nigeria is Abia state under the present governor Okezie Ikpazu.
One incident that continues to attract both regional and international condemnation is the case of Gabriel Ogbonna.
Mr. Gabriel Emperor Ogbonna, a legal practitioner and human rights activist based in Aba, Abia State, has been in detention since March 24, 2020, having been arrested in his office by operatives of Department of State Security and armed policemen.
He was initially taken to the Abia State Police Command where he was confronted with a petition written against him that he published falsehood against the Governor of Abia State, that the latter swore to an oath at the Ancient Harashima.
He was eventually arraigned before the Magistrate’s Court and remanded in custody. The activist was later charged before the Federal High Court, Umuahia and was admitted to bail by the said court. Mr. Ogbonna perfected the conditions of his bail and was released from the Correctional Centre on April 28, 2020, but he was arrested immediately by the Abia State Director of DSS despite been granted bail by a Federal High Court. He was thereafter transferred to Abuja for no justifiable reason and has since been incarcerated under inhuman conditions.
The lawyers representing him, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN in a press statement said that “Whereas it is proper and desirable for law enforcement agencies to do their best to investigate, detect and prosecute crimes, for the good of society, once the court has intervened however, by way of granting bail to a defendant, then such an order must be respected and not be subverted through devious means or by subterfuge”.
Barr Adegboruwa said “There is no other way to describe the conduct of the DSS in transferring Mr. Ogbonna to Abuja whilst his case is still pending before the Court than an errant violation of the order of court granting him bail.
He said that members of the executive arm of government must willingly submit themselves to the authority of the Courts as demanded by the Constitution and not seek to denigrate that hallowed institution”.
It is said that Mr. Ogbonna’s attention is needed by his pregnant wife, he also has a precarious medical history, having suffered gunshot wounds from an attempted assassination upon his life in the past. With the health challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, this is not the time to embark upon indiscriminate arrest and detention of citizens. Indeed, the government only recently directed that the Correctional Centres be decongested.
Barr Adegboruwa called on the DSS to obey the order of court granting bail to Mr. Ogbonna and if there be any further allegations against him, he should be charged to court immediately in line with the requirement of the Constitution.