Yenagoa—The Bayelsa State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has urged the state governor, Senator Douye Diri, to lift the siege on its members.
The party accused the governor of using the state police command and the judiciary to abuse the fundamental human rights of its members.
In a statement on Monday in Yenagoa, signed by the State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, the party stated that last week, the governor launched an ungodly and unsympathetic regime of persecution against APC members, using the state police command and the court.
It said some party members were invited by the Anti–Kidnapping Unit of the Nigeria Police in Yenagoa for alleged “defamation of character/conduct likely to cause a breach of peace.”
The statement said the APC members included: Mr. Ebikpoemi Bobby Ugo, Mr. Gborienemi Mark-charles, Mr. Funkebi Atabala and Mr. Preye Bagou; revealing that Mr. Bobby Ugo, who was arrested even before he could honour the invitation, has been remanded at Okaka Prison, Yenagoa, for 18 days.
Mr. Buokoribo said, “We consider this development completely preposterous, outlandish, and anarchic, particularly, at a time, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has just formally declared open electioneering activities towards a crucial general election, a period when the state government should, indeed, be leading the charge towards peace.
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“The right of our members to freely and openly criticise the administration of Governor Diri is guaranteed under our democratic laws. No authority, however highly placed, has the lawful mandate to tamper with that right.
“If the governor feels offended, he is free to approach the courts for redress and not seek self-help using intimidatory tactics, in connivance with the police and the judiciary in the state.
“We know it as a matter of fact that defamation is a civil, not criminal, matter.
“It is worrying that the police in Bayelsa State have become Douye Diri’s poodle. More worryingly, we fail to understand the role of the Police Anti-Kidnapping Unit in this issue,”
The APC State Publicity Secretary added that “besides, it is inhuman for Governor Douye Diri to persecute fellow Bayelsans at this time – or any other time. Most persons across the state are now displaced because of the ravaging flood. What is needed is empathy, kindness, and leadership.
“Having assumed the governorship of the state through the instrumentality of the Supreme Court, instead of the votes of our people, we would have thought Douye Diri will be humble. This persecution of our members clearly shows pettiness.
“The APC in Bayelsa State demands a quick halt to the siege laid on our members. Bayelsa State belongs to all of us.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was yet to react as of press time.