The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has launched a scathing attack on controversial police Assistant Inspector General, Joseph Mbu, after the officer ordered the arrest of a TV journalist for describing him as “controversial”.
Mr. Mbu, a former police commissioner in Rivers State and lately, Abuja, has drawn condemnations for clamping down on public protests, and government critics.
On Thursday, senior lawyers and civil society groups demanded his immediate dismissal over the arrest of Amaechi Anakwe of the AIT television.
In a separate statement Wednesday, the NLC warned the officer it will resist any attempt at muzzling the media and described him as a “serial embarrassment” to the police force.
Read NLC’s full statement below:
The Nigeria Labour Congress views with serious concern the unlawful and unjustifiable arrest, detention and alleged torture of Mr. Amaechi Anekwe of the Africa Independent, AIT, at the instance of Mr Joseph Mbu an AIG of Police.
The offence of Mr. Anekwe is that he had referred to Mr. Mbu as “controversial”, which in our view is neither derogatory nor libelous. Even if the word or sentence were otherwise, there are lawful channels of redress. Mr Mbu cannot be judge and prosecutor in his own case.
Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to which we are all answerable in spite of our station in life.
The arrest and detention of Mr. Anekwe is therefore a calculated attempt to muscle the press and free speech in a democracy. And it does not appear to be an isolated case as a few months earlier, this same Mbu violently broke up the Bring-Back-the – Chibok- Girls Campaign on the basis of a non-existent law, drawing international condemnation of the government.
His antecedents in Rivers State from where he was deployed to Abuja are not less sinister. Rather than receive a reprimand, Mbu was rewarded with a choice posting and promotion, with not a few speculating that he is being positioned to be IGP.
A few weeks ago, a chest- thumping Mbu had boasted at his hand-over ceremony that he was “the lion that tamed the tiger of Rivers State”.
Much earlier though unrelated to Mbu, newspaper publications adjudged not to be friendly to the government were routinely seized and destroyed.
We want to serve strong notice that we shall resist any attempt to gag the press or harass any one going about their lawful duty in a peaceful and lawful manner.
It is too soon to forget that the media played a leading role in securing the fourth republic for Nigerians. That task was not accomplished by playing the lapdog of everyone.
We now find it necessary to sound a note of caution on Mr Mbu. His above- the-law attitude to the work of law enforcement gives him out as one that is more inclined to promoting anarchy than the rule of law.
He does not seem to represent the mainstream 21st century police if his routine primitive, partisan and primordial outbursts are anything to go by. He is a serial embarrassment to the Police Force we need.
The Police Force we need is the one that is concerned with public good, law, order and justice. We doubt Mr Mbu is in the right company.
And finally, a word for those that invest and promote lions. Quite often times they end up in their bellies.
General Secretary, NLC