Osun Election: 700 APC members sue Army, Police, SSS over arrest

Seven hundred members of All Progressives Congress, APC, have instituted about 24 fundamental rights enforcement applications against the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police Force, NPF, and the State Security Service, SSS, claiming a total of N47.2 billion as damages for their arrest, detention and brutalization during the August 9 governorship election in Osun State.

Among the applicants are the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Lai Mohammed; National Legal Adviser, Muiz Banire; Attorney General of Osun State, Wale Afolabi; and the Commissioner for Agriculture, Wale Adedoyin.

Others are the Regent of Iloko Ijesha, Sola Ogunsanya; member representing Ilesha West in the Osun State House of Assembly; Folarin Fafowora, a businessman; and Tijani Oladosu.

In the originating motions filed on their behalf by Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, at the Federal High Court, Osogbo, Osun State, the applicants, who came from more than 20 local government areas of the state prayed for the following orders:

-A declaration that the arrest and detention of the applicants by officers of the Respondents on the 8th and 9th days of August, 2014 is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and in violation of the Applicant’s fundamental right to personal liberty as guaranteed by
sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and Articles 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Cap A9, LFN, 2004.

-A declaration that the arrest and manhandling of the applicants by officers of the Respondents on the 8th and 9th days of August, 2014 constitute a violation of the Applicants’ freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment as guaranteed by Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

-A declaration that the prevention of the Applicants from participating in the governorship election that took place on Saturday the 9th day of August, 2014 and voting for the candidate(s) of their choice is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates Articles 13(1)
and 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9, LFN 2004.

They also sought “an Order directing the Respondents to pay aggravated damages/compensation in the sum of N100, 000,000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) to each Applicant and tender public apology to each of the Applicants for the aforesaid illegal and unconstitutional violations of the Applicants’ fundamental rights.”

Some of the applicants said they were arrested on the night that preceded the Election Day, stripped naked and severely beaten by the officials of the Respondents.

They also said they were detained in different places until the election was over on August 9, 2014 and as a result were not allowed to participate in and vote for the candidates of their choices.

The applicants alleged that they were all arrested because of their membership of APC and support for the governor of the state, Rauf Aregbesola, who was the candidate of the party in the election.

Lamenting their ordeal, Mr. Afolabi said it was “an indication that the democratic process still has a long way to go.”

The chairman of the APC in Osun State had told PREMIUM TIMES last week that about 50 of the party faithful were still in detention several days after the election.

Media reports had put the number of security personnel deployed by the Federal Government in Osun State during the election at over 65,000.

They were drawn from the Nigerian Army, NPF, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and the SSS, whose members were hooded.

The massive deployment raised suspicion in some quarters that it was meant to provide support for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which controls the Federal Government.

Both President Goodluck Jonathan and the Acting Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, had defended the action, saying it was meant to forestall malpractices and breakdown of law and order.

The National Assembly has initiated an amendment to the Electoral Act to limit the roles of the military to “securing the distribution and delivery of electoral materials.”

Speaking at the public hearing conducted by the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters last week, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, said the proposed law would ensure that a level-playing field was provided for all participants in the electoral process.

He added that the law was in agreement with what obtains all over the world.

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