Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was arrested during the Osun gubernatorial election for allegedly being in the habit of abusing President Goodluck Jonathan, an affidavit deposed to by the driver of Mohammed to an Osun State high court sitting in Oshogbo has revealed.
Contained in the 14-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Olowopopo, who drove the car that conveyed the applicants from Lagos to Oshogbo, it was alleged that the event occurred on August 8, 2014, about 9pm, while they were on their way to the Government House to meet with Governor Rauf Aregbesola to honour an appointment.
The Trio arrested – Lai Mohammed, Salisu Shuaibu, Sunday Dare and Ibrahim Olowopopo (applicants) – have jointly instituted a “fundamental rights enforcement” suit before the Osun State High Court, accusing the DSS of political witch-hunting and victimisation.
According to reports from Leadership, they have slammed a N500 million suit against the DSS for their alleged arrest and detention by agents of the service during the just concluded governorship election in Osun State.
Specifically, the applicants alleged in the suit, which is expected to be formally filed by their counsel, M. A. Banire & Associates, on Monday, that one of the reasons they were arrested by the DSS as allegedly claimed by one of the officers who arrested them was because the APC publicity secretary “was in the habit of abusing President Goodluck Jonathan”.
Apart from seeking a N500 million compensation for the illegal and unconstitutional violations of their fundamental rights, the applicants also want the court to order the respondents to tender a public apology to them.
They are also praying the court for a declaration that their arrest and detention by officers of the respondent on August 8 and 9, 2014 was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and in violation of their fundamental right to personal liberty as guaranteed by section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
The applicants are further demanding a declaration that their arrest and manhandling by the respondent on days constituted a violation of their freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment as guaranteed by section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
Some of the grounds on which the suit is based included: that the arrest, torture and inhuman treatment to which the applicants were subjected by officers of the respondent are definitely not approved by law as the applicants neither committed nor were they convicted of any offence to warrant such treatment by the respondent.
Also it states that the arrest, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment to which the applicants were subjected by the respondents were based on a frivolous allegation of loitering as later disclosed by the respondent’s spokesperson, Mrs Marilyn Ogar, in an interview on Channels television on Thursday, August 14, 2014, which offence is unknown to law.
The applicants also averred: “Some few metres away from the Government House situate at Oke-Fia when we observed some officers of the respondent with bold tags on their chests reading ‘DSS’ and some other persons trying to break into the premises of one Senator Bayo Salami who shared the same fence with the Government House…
“I noticed that the said officers of the respondent were shooting the gate of the house of the said Senator Bayo Salami but I was instructed by the first applicant to quickly drive by so as to avoid any trouble with the said officers of the respondent.
“Suddenly, the officers of the respondent whose names were covered jumped on the road and stopped the vehicle I was driving, ordered me to switch on the inner light of the vehicle which I promptly did.
“While they were interrogating me as to our destination and whether we had cash on us, one of the officers identified the first applicant (Lai Mohammed) as the national publicity secretary of All Progressives Congress and alleged that the first applicant was in the habit of abusing President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The said officers of the respondent ordered the first applicant to get down from the vehicle and suddenly put the nozzle of a gun to his head, ordered the second and third applicants to also disembark from the vehicle under the cover of a gun and moved them into a waiting Hilux van of the respondent.
“Some officers of the respondent immediately drove the first to third applicants away to the office of the respondent situate at Gbongan-Osogbo Road while other officers and some unidentified men in masks descended on the vehicle I was driving, searched it thoroughly and, when they could not find any cash except the little money on me which they promptly collected, they started beating me and later took me to the office of the respondent where I met the first to third defendants already in custody of the respondent.
“We were detained in the open air at the office of the respondent till the early hours of the next day.
“It was at the office of the respondent that we were all later released and we returned to the Government House at about 1am of the 9th day of August, 2014, with the first to third applicants thoroughly traumatized while I was quite scared to drive back to the Government House as the whole city of Osogbo was under siege imposed by heavily armed security officers who were seen brutalizing other road users at different places as we were going.
“Surprisingly on the 14th day of August, 2014, I was in my house in Lagos when I saw the spokesperson of the respondent, one Marilyn Ogar, on Sunrise programme of Channels television where she disclosed that the offence for which the first applicant, and a fortiori, all the applicants, were arrested, tortured and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment was ‘loitering’.
“I know that unless sanctioned by this honourable court, the respondent will continue to indulge in such harassment, intimidation, detention, violation and crass impunity against other members of society and the applicants’ violated rights would be without remedies.”