By Emeka Mamah, Kaduna
The alleged detention and torture of a police inspector Nicholas Ossai,Â in charge of the security personnel attached to a Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] chieftain, Chief Chris Uba, has drawn widespread condemnation from a broad spectrum of Nigerians.
Among those who condemned the ordeal of the police officer include politicians, the Arewa Consultative Forum, [ACF], the TMG, Arewa Peoples Vanguard and town union leaders.
Uba, the self-styled PDP godfather in Anambra state was alleged to have detained, manhandled and summarily tried the police inspector, Mr. Nicholas Ossai in the front of his subordinates for allegedly allowing a police constable in his house to travel for a burial without his [Ubaâ€™s] approval.
Nicholas Ossai is the head of a 22-man police squad attached to Chris Uba for security until the number was reduced recently to 12 following Federal Governmentâ€™s policy on the category of public officers entitled to police protection.
Sources close to the PDP chieftainâ€™s residence disclosed that the incident took place in the expansive premises of the politician in Enugu State.
It was alleged that after the in-house trial, the police officer was then handed over to the state police commissioner who ordered his detention for 16 days before being released on the orders of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro.
It was gathered that when the police officer was going through the inhuman ordeal, his aged father, Augustine Ossai simply died of shock on hearing the news.
Reacting to the incident, the National Chairman of the Citizens Popular Party [CPP],Â Mr. Maxi Okwu condemned in strong terms the posting of a large number of policemen to a private citizen when ordinary Nigerians are being slaughtered on the highways by armed robbers who operate unmolested.
Okwu said the PDP government has never been sensitive to the level of deprivation and suffering experienced by Nigerians adding that it is ridiculous that a private businessman would indulge in the detention and torture of a police officer and get away with it.
â€œIt is unbelievable to learn that the experience was true. I thought it was fiction when I first read about it in the newspapers.
The IGP should rise up to the occasion by investigating the matter and allowing justice to prevail. There is a policy on the posting of escorts to individual public officers and as far as I know, Chris Uba is not one of them.
â€œRobbers kill people like rats everywhere in the country because we do not have enough policemen to provide security and an individual is enjoying the services of a large number of policemen and behaving like he is a president.
â€œThe other day, the same Chris Uba donated hundreds of vehicles and other equipment to the PDP in flagrant contravention of existing laws and nobody including INEC is talking,â€ he said.
Arewa Consultative Forum said that it was hard to believe that such a despicable behaviour happened in the 21 century Nigeria pointing out that it goes to show how unserious the present administration has shown itself to be in its avowed belief in the rule of law and the equality of the citizens before the law.
National Publicity Secretary of the group, Mr. Anthony Sani said in a statement that the administration would have created the unsavoury impression that some big men were above the law should it decide to ignore the behaviour of the PDP chieftain.
â€œI do not want to believe the report that Chief Chris Uba slapped and detained a police inspector who is among those attached to him.
This is because the mantra of this regime is rule of law and due process for the express purpose of strengthening public institutions over and above forces of personality.Â â€œA situation where Chief Chris Uba would maltreat a policeman is emblematic of this unsavoury practice of Nigeriaâ€™s big man being above the law more so that he (Uba) is not among those who are entitled to police security personnel.
â€œMore distressing is this impression being created in the popular consciousness of the public that he is above the very institution that enforces the law. Once again, I do not want to believe the reports,â€ Sani said.
Also, the Transition Monitoring Group [TMG] in its reaction said that police authorities must constitute a credible panel of inquiry to investigate the incident.
Coordinator of the TMG in the Northwest Zone, Mr. Festus Okoye, who spoke with Crime Guard said that â€œno individual in the country is permitted to serially violate the rights of individuals or officers of the law with impunity,â€ adding that the incident underscores the gap between policy formulation and implementation.
â€œWe need explanation from the police high command why an individual should be allowed to retain such a large number of policemen as his private security,â€ he further said.
In its own reaction, the Arewa Peoples Vanguard, a socio-political pressure group said the exercise of impunity went away with the immediate past administration when politicians did whatever they liked without obeying the laws of the land stressing that Uba should not be allowed to get away with the latest infringement of the laws.
The General Secretary of the group, Mallam Isah Maigaje called on the Federal Government to act decisively on the matter to erase the impression that there are two laws or some Nigerians who are above the laws especially the constitution.
Nsukka Zonal Union [NZU] Chairman in Kaduna State, Dr. Fabian Onah also condemned the alleged torture of Inspector Ossai and his detention by the police regretting that the police has become a place where dogs eat dogs.