February 23, 2024

Abure released after 12 hours in police custody



BENIN CITY— AFTER about 12 hours in police custody, the National Chairman of the Labour Party, LP, Mr Julius Abure, was released on bail at 2 a.m., yesterday.

He was arrested alongside the Edo State chairman of the party, Kelly Ogbaloi and some other members of the executive in Benin City, Edo State on Wednesday.

This came as the party’s Presidential candidate in the February 25, 2023, poll, Mr Peter Obi, condemned what he described as the discourteous manner in which security operatives arrested Abure in Benin City.

Obi said the arrest could have been better handled to show we are civilised and in a democracy.

Also, the LP Caucus in the House of Representatives has queried the timing and intentions of the recent arrest of Abure, describing it as cruel, dehumanising and an abuse of democratic ethos.

Meanwhile, a governorship aspirant in Edo State, Mr. Olumide Akpata, has denied the allegation that he was behind the arrest of Abure.

In a video released early, yesterday, Abure said the reasons for his arrest would not be disclosed since it was still being investigated by the police but he accused the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, of deliberately causing a crisis in LP.

He said: “After the general election, they have been trying to instigate crisis in the party, they tried to bring false accusations against us. They have talked about forgery against us at a time, when it didn’t work, they came with embezzlement.

“Any person that is aggrieved in the party, they will go and instigate them to write petition against us. And the irony is that the police even act on those and at the end of the day, they discover that those things are false.

“On Wednesday, we were making arrangements for the Edo State governorship primaries and of course, the police swooped on us and arrested us over what I will not want to discuss now because investigation is still going on and therefore, we would not want to pre-empt them.

“But I must state clearly that following several interventions, they have graciously released me on bail. except for the Edo State Chairman of the party, Kelly Ogbaloi and the youth leader.”

Abure’s arrest could have been better handled —Obi

On his part, Obi said: “Like many Nigerians, I observed the distasteful national television news reports detailing the humiliating arrest of Abure.

“Throughout my roles as a private individual, public figure, governor, and Presidential candidate, I consistently advocated the paramount importance of upholding the rule of law in any sane society.

“I firmly believe that, as citizens, we are all duty-bound irrespective of our status in society to respond to invitations from properly constituted authority.

“My stance on this matter remains unwavering but does not explain watching the distressing image of our National Chairman lying on the ground in the name of arrest.

“This act is undesirable and unequivocally intolerable and must be condemned by any decent and civilised mind within the context of our present civic landscape in Nigeria.

“These deplorable actions epitomise the pinnacle of rascality and serve to egregiously tarnish the already delicate perception of our nation as one plagued by lawlessness.

“Such behaviour must be not only denounced but also actively addressed to uphold the principles of justice and respect within our society.

“Regarding the circumstances surrounding Mr. Abure’s arrest, it is crucial to emphasize that while constitutional authorities must be allowed to execute their statutory functions, officers must adhere to due process and established arrest procedures, embody civility, decorum, respect for the dignity and rights of citizens, and above all, the presumption of innocence.

Abure’s arrest, abuse of democratic ethos—LP Reps caucus

House of Representatives LP Caucus Leader, Mr. Afam Ogene, in statement, yesterday, said the timing of the arrest, on the eve of LP’s primary election for the forthcoming governorship election in Edo State, which the Abure-led National Working Committee, NWC, was overseeing, exposes the ugly development as a crudely scripted political charade that offends the sensibility of every true democrat and puts to question the integrity of the police in issues that involve the political class.

The LP Caucus called on the IG to investigate the underlining issues that had put the police in bad light, by “once again soiling the institution in the mud of desperate tussle for political powers, by those who see politics as a do or die affair.”

I’ve no hand in Abure’s arrest —Akpata

A governorship aspirant of the party in Edo State, Mr. Akpata, has denied allegation that he was behind the arrest of the party’s National Chairman, Abure in Benin City.

Akpata in a statement, yesterday, said: “Let me categorically state that these allegations made by Mr. Kenneth Imasuagbon, who claims to be a lawyer and should, therefore, know better, are completely false and, frankly, very irresponsible.

“I had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in the arrests he referred to. As we have been told by the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Police Force, Zone 5 Zonal Headquarters, the arrests stemmed from an entirely separate incident that occurred in Benin City on December 29, 2023, where one Anselm Eragbe, a former National Youth Leader of LP, was allegedly assaulted.”

“Eragbe, thereafter, submitted a petition on the attack, accusing the arrested officials of orchestrating the incident. It was this petition that prompted a police investigation and subsequent arrests.

“I must make it clear that I have no connection at all to this unfortunate matter, beyond also being falsely accused on national television on December 29, 2023, of being responsible for the incident involving Eragbe. As someone falsely implicated in this matter, I have a strong interest in the outcome of the police investigation in order to clear my name fully.

“Given the timing of the arrests just 48 hours before the LP primaries scheduled for February 23, 2024, the last possible day for political parties intending to field candidates in the September 21, 2024, Edo State gubernatorial election to conduct primaries, it raises some very serious concerns. It is imperative that the party be able to conduct free, fair, and smooth primaries as planned on February 23, 2024.

“I strongly urge the party leadership to explore all lawful options as provided by the party’s constitution to ensure the activities and operations of LP continue without obstruction. The party must urgently release the final delegate list from the ward congresses of February 20, 2024, which were monitored by INEC.

“It is worrying that we still do not have full delegate information more than 24 hours after the congress. I want to use this opportunity to caution Mr. Imasuagbon to cease his campaign of falsehoods and calumny against me, which he renewed with vigour on February 20, 2024, and has continued with his latest unwarranted attacks, where he attempted to link me to the party leadership’s arrest.”