Osun Election: ‘50 APC members still in detention’

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The Osun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress [APC] has said about 50 of its members are still in detention more than one week after the governorship election in the state.

The chairman of the party, Adelowo Adebiyi, who disclosed this to PREMIUM TIMES on telephone Monday, said it would head for court later in the week with a view to securing their freedom.

Also on Monday, the Osun State Government confirmed plans to file a lawsuit against the Federal Government over alleged abuses committed by security personnel deployed in the state during the election.

The Nigerian government had massively deployed security personnel comprising the police, soldiers, members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and operatives of the State Security Service, SSS, in Osun to maintain order during the election.

Although the actual figure of the security personnel deployed could not be ascertained, media reports put it at over 65,000.

President Goodluck Jonathan explained that the heavy security presence was meant to ensure the election was not manipulated.

The acting Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, also said the heavy deployment was informed by allegations that thugs were being recruited and armed to foment trouble during the poll.

Among the APC leaders detained was the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Lai Mohammed. He was however freed the following morning.

The incumbent governor and candidate of the APC, Rauf Aregbesola, won the election.

Mr. Adebiyi said apart from Mr. Mohammed, about 200 members of the ruling party in the state were arrested and detained before and during the August 9 election and that the police released about 150 of them leaving the remaining 50 to rot in detention.

“Some have been released from detention, but not all,” he said. “About 200 of our members were arrested and detained, but about 150 of them have so far been released,” he said in a telephone interview. “We are planning to go to court this week to enforce their release.”

Also speaking in a telephone interview, the Osun State Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Maishanu said he could not ascertain if there were members of the APC still in detention.

He however promised to provide the information as soon as possible to this newspaper.

The SSS spokesperson, Marylyn Ogar could not be reached for comments as she did not answer or return calls made to her mobile telephone. She did not also respond to a text message sent to her.

The Director of Communication and Strategy in the Office of the Osun State Governor, Semiu Okanlawon, said the state government was already preparing to file a suit in deference to an advice by the European Union Election Monitoring Group.

The EU group, led by Paul Edwards, had during a meeting with Mr. Aregbesola in Osogbo, the state capital, advised the governor to use the courts to seek redress rather than resorting to self help.

“As a government and as an entity, we are going to seek legal redress over abuses committed by security agencies during the election,” he told PREMIUM TIMES during a telephone interview.

“The Nigerian government must respect the right of other governments at all levels. There was no war, no violence, nothing. They came without consultations and some of them even hid their identities.

“This is not a party matter because there are people in the state who do not belong to any party, but were harassed. As a government, there is no way this kind of intimidation and harassment will go unchallenged. So while the party is doing what it wants for its members we are going to do our own because it has a duty to protect everybody regardless of their political leanings.”


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