By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – Some Civil Society Organisations, yesterday, called on the Kogi state government and the Department of State Services (DSS) to ensure the release of Comrade Austin Okai, a critic of the Governor Yahaya Bello administration, who was taken into security custody on the eve of the February 23, presidential election.
They spoke at a joint press briefing, in Abuja, on the plight of the detained opposition leader.
Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said Okai is kept incommunicado at a DSS facility in the Kogi without access to his lawyer, family and associates.
However, he expressed worry over a trending social media post that the government critic was killed and his body dumped along a major road leading to the FCT.
His words, “Our concern is further complicated by the refusal of the DSS to make any public statement regarding his arrest and ordeal.
“We consider this an infringement of his fundamental human rights and a grave disservice to our constitution and the justice system.
“We want Gov. Yahaya Bello to know that we and the people of this country will hold him responsible if anything untoward happens to Comrade Usman Austin Okai.”
In his presentation, Deji Adeyanju, the convener of Concerned Nigerians, raised the alarm that Okai’s continued detention is generating tension within and outside Kogi, adding that all efforts to secure access to him have proved abortive.
On his part, Anthony Ehilebo, a political advocate, said: “We wish to state categorically that Comrade Usman Austin Okai must immediately be released unconditionally without further delay.
“We also wish to emphasize that the government of Gov. Yahaya Bello must desist from needless persecutions and remember that power is transient, and we all shall reap whatever we sow on earth.”