The family of late Moshood Abiola, presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, have dissociated themselves from the fundamental human rights suit challenging the police detention of two sons of the deceased.
Recall that two sons of the late presidential candidate, Kassim and Aliyu, were arrested and detained over a robbery incident that took place at their father’s residence on September 2.
They claimed they were unlawfully arrested and detained at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Ikeja, sequel to a complaint that was lodged by their step-mum, Adebisi Abiola, after the robbery incident.
On Friday, the duo approached a Lagos State High Court sitting in the Ikeja Judicial Division for the enforcement of their fundamental rights.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that they applied for the enforcement of their rights to personal liberty, dignity of person, right to private and family life, as well as right to freedom of movement, citing the Lagos State Commissioner of Police as the sole respondent in the suit filed through their lawyer and human rights activist, Mike Ozekhome.
Specifically, they prayed the court to declare that “the arrest without warrant and subsequent and continuous dehumanization and detention of the Applicants since the 2nd September, 2020, by operatives of the Respondent on the alleged Complaint of one Mrs Adebisi Abiola, is illegal, unlawful, wrongful and constitutes a blatant violation of the Applicants’ fundamental rights as enshrined in Section 35 (1) (4) & (6), 37, 41 (1), 44 (1) and 46(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as altered, Sections 2, 3(1) (2), 17(1) (2), 18 (1) (2) (3), 19, 21 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Lagos State, 2015, and Articles 5, 6 & 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“A declaration that the arrest and subsequent dehumanization and the continuous detention of the Applicants since the 2nd September, 2020, by operatives of the Respondent on the alleged Petition/Complaint of one Mrs Adebisi Abiola, without granting them administrative bail within 24 hours of their arrest, are illegal, wrongful, unlawful and constitutes a blatant violation of fundamental rights as enshrined in Section 35 (1) (4) & (6), 37, 41 (1), 44 (1) and 46(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as altered, Sections 2, 3(1) (2), 17(1) (2), 18 (1) (2) (3), 19, 21 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Lagos State, 2015, and Articles 5, 6 & 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“A declaration that the Applicants are entitled to public apology and adequate compensation from the Respondent as provided for by section 35(6) and 46(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as altered, Sections 2, 3(1) (2), 17(1) (2), 18 (1) (2) (3), 19, 21 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Lagos State, 2015, for the blatant violation of the Applicants’ fundamental rights without following the due process of law.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondent whether by itself, its agents, employees, operatives, detectives, investigating officer(s), or by whatever name called, from further inviting, arresting or detaining the Applicant on the facts of an alleged Petition/Complaint made by one Mrs Adebisi Abiola, in relation to a purported or alleged robbery incident to which they know absolutely nothing about.”
They also sought an order of the court, “directing the Respondent and his operatives and agents to release forthwith the Applicants from the detention of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, detention center of the Respondent.”
Aside from demanding an apology, the applicants equally asked for an order to compel the respondent to pay them N100 million as exemplary damages for the “wanton and grave violation” of their fundamental rights.
Abiola’s widow reacts
Reacting through a statement issued by Debo Adeleke, the family’s lawyer, Abiola’s widow, Adebisi, said the arrest of her stepsons was a result of their unruly acts during police interrogation.
Narrating the chain of events, Mr Adeleke stated that the hoodlums broke into Mrs Adebisi’s lodge and carted away valuables running into millions of naira.
She and her daughter were subsequently locked up in her room with a threat by the armed robbers that the two will be eliminated if they raise an alarm.
“Mrs. Abiola was eventually freed by other members of the family who had apparently called the police upon which she and her daughter and other members of the family were interviewed by the police led by the indefatigable and dutiful Lagos State Commissioner of Police in person of Mr. Hakeem Odumosu.”
According to the press release, while the policemen were interviewing the family members, Messrs Kassim and Aliu Ablola conducted themselves in a “very rude, ungentlemanly, provocative, embarrassing and suspicious manner and all efforts by other members of the family to make them act in a responsible manner failed”.
“The police subsequently arrested Mr. Kassim Abiola, Mr. Aliu Abiola and seven others for further questioning, regarding the investigation of the robbery incident, which the police suspected to have been carried out through the active connivance of a member of the family or staff considering the ease with which such an ugly armed robbery incident was carried out.”
Mr Adeleke denied insinuations that the Abiola’s widow was instrumental to the arrest of Kassim and Aliu Abiola simply because they are her stepsons.
The family lawyer noted that he was directed by Mrs Abiola to liaise with the Nigeria police in order to facilitate the release of her two stepsons and personal staff.
“Consequent upon the above, Barrister Debo Adeleke discussed with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police who understandably consented to release them and efforts to release and admit the three men into an administrative bail were concluded on Friday 11th September, 2020.”
Mr Adeleke further said it came as a surprise when a lawyer from the law firm of Mike Ozekhome, in company of a woman, stormed the Lagos State police command and informed the police of the suit filed in court for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of Messrs. Kassim and Aliu Abiola, while he was making final efforts to perfect their bail.
“Consequent upon the above, the police could not go ahead with the planned release of the three men as earlier scheduled for Friday, 11 September, 2020. This unfortunate turn of events angered Chief Mrs. Adebisi Abiola and other members of the family and they were thoroughly embarrassed.”
“Now that Mr. Kassim and Ali Abiola’s fundamental rights suits have been adjourned till the 15 October, 2020, a period of over 30 days (from now), all efforts by the family, especially Chief Mrs Adebisi Abiola and the family lawyer in company of the Abiola family secretary have been thwarted.”
He, however, assured that the concerned persons will continue to seek for the release of the duo from the police by admitting them to administrative bail pending investigation.