(Armstrong addressing newsmen recently in Benin, South-south Nigeria)
//Armstrong Ovie-Afabor, speaker Niger-Delta Youth Assembly (NDYA) writes from Benin, Edo State//
Our attention have been drawn to the growing spite of malicious arrest being carried out by men of the Nigerian police force across the country, our worry is that the target of these arrest are activist who come out to agitate for the rights of their groups.
Not long ago in Benin city the Edo state capital, a comrade by the name Curtis Ugbo was arrested as a fallout of the protest he had participated in days before his arrest.
Only last weekend a group of students activist were arrested over protesting for the rights of one of their oppressed members. They were hastily taken to a mobile magistrate court and remanded. There have been reports of such cases across the country where the police force meant to protect us have now become agents of terror to activist.
While they may wish to continue in this oppressive and draconian style, they should remember that activist have in the past and till date fought for better funding of the police force, they have fought for better lives for all Nigerians. They as members of the NPF have benefited from negotiated fuel price, negotiated power bills, negotiate school fees, better roads, higher wages and so on. Many of these successes started by the use of the approach they joyously intimidate today.
We at the Niger-delta Youth Assembly will not be intimidated, we will not be chickened to silence. We refuse to live in bondage in our own country, consequently we condemn this new style and urge the Nigeria police to in the same swift manner they have charged the lagos students activist to an arranged court, charge all suspects who have been in their custody for over 48 hours to court. We have heard of cases where murder, armed robbery, kidnapping and other such high profile cases never got to the court, some takes months to get to court. So why charge activist who protested to court? Are we now back to the military era? Are we now in an apartheid regime in Nigeria?
While I leave the above questions to the NPF for responses , we call on them to drop this new style of intimidating activist because tomorrow when you need people to speak for you, you will discover that you have made all who can speak mute and it will be too late to regret.
We also call on the judiciary to stay away from been used as a pawn in the game of intimidating activist. Actions like that displaced by the lagos magistrate kills the confidence of the common man on the Judiciary as their last hope.
It is at this point that we call on the Femi Falana, Festus Keyamu, and other legal luminaries of the bar to use issues like this to make headlines. We call on them to pick up this case and lead the struggle.
On our part we are already working with our legal department to reach modalities on how to stop this ugly trend from succeeding in the Niger-delta. In days to come we shall address a press conference on our next line of action.