Keyamo Asks Buhari To Remove IGP Idris Over Unlawful Arrest Of Elombah Brothers

Human Rights Activist, and famous lawyer Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to remove the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Kpotum Idris for high-handedness and Abuse of office in ordering the illegal arrest and detention of online journalists, Daniel Elombah and Tim Elombah.

Keyamo who made the request in a letter written to President Buhari dated 15, January accused the IGP of displaying personal vendetta by refusing to release Tim Elombah long after the detention order granted by an Area Court Judge has expired.

The Senior Advocate who narrated how the Elombah brothers were abducted from their home town in Edoji, Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra state, said that a situation where Mr President’s appointees ride rough shod over innocent citizens or use the positions to which Mr President appointed them to settle personal scores should, ordinarily, rankle the President and cause him to intervene.

“Your Excellency, it is shocking and alarming, to say the least, that the Inspector-General of Police deployed the officers and men of special police squads like SARS and STS, which are established to fight serious and violent crimes, to settle a purely private grievance with on-line journalists. If at all an offence was committed by the said published article (which is not conceded) a simple civil invitation to our clients would have sufficed. But to use such strong-arm tactics to reign in our clients was a gross abuse of his office and an employment of stone-age tactics in pursuing his personal grievance.

“He has further displayed his personal vendetta by refusing to release Tim Elombah long after the detention order has expired. This is one of the worst forms of abuse of human rights.

“Your Excellency, such practices should be clearly unacceptable under your watch. A situation where your appointees ride rough shod over innocent citizens or use the positions to which you appointed them to settle personal scores should, ordinarily, rankle you and cause you to intervene. It should be more so as the substance of the matter has to do with the criticism of the personal life of a public officer by the Fourth Estate of the Realm, a practice that has come to be recognized as one of the components of a thriving democracy. If a public officer cannot tolerate or stomach harsh criticisms, he has no business occupying public office.

“It is in the light of the above we urge you to use your good offices to order an investigation into this crass display of power and indiscretion by the Inspector-General of Police and mete out appropriate sanctions against him, which may include the extreme step of relieving him of his position.”

Keyamo’ petition further said that “On or about the 1st day of January, 2018, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, caused the men and officers of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad to invade the family compound of our clients in Edoji, Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State. Six persons (including our clients) were arrested, handcuffed like common criminals and driven to the SARS office in Nnewi. They were subsequently taken to the SARS headquarters in Awkuzu, near Awka. Up till this point, our clients were not informed of the reason(s) for their arrests.

“It was at SARS headquarters in Awkuzu that our clients were handed over to other armed officers who identified themselves as being from Special Tactical Squad, S.T.S, a team that works directly in the office of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris. Our clients and one Izuchukwu Elombah were then taken all the way by road (and in handcuffs) to Abuja.

“It was in Abuja that the officers then subjected our clients to hours of grueling interrogation regarding an article published in another blog called opinionnigeria.com, titled ‘IGP Ibrahim Idris’s Unending Baggage of Controversies”. The article in question was not published by our clients’ blog, Elombah.com, and our clients denied any link to the author, one Ebiowei Dickson. Daniel and Izuchukwu Elombah were eventually released on bail, but have been made to report constantly since then.

“However, the Police got a Remand Order to detain Tim for seven days which expired more than a week ago and the Police are still holding Tim illegally. We now understand that the Police have prepared a Charge against our clients and they would soon be arraigned.”

Fresh Controversy Trails Police IGP, Over The Illegal Detention Of London-Based-Lawyer, And Online Publisher

Despite the uproar and condemnation trailing the killings by Fulani herdsmen in Benue and Taraba States, over the Police and security agencies’ handling of the crisis, Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police (IGP) has again managed to open a new controversy on another front after an alleged high handedness in dealings with a London based lawyer and online publisher, and his journalist brother, Tim and Daniel Elombah, respectively, over a publications on a separate platform other than the one managed by Tim and Daniel.

The article in question was published on opinionnigeria.com. While details of the gist bear striking resemblance to an earlier expose by Senator Mesau which is still a matter of Senate Probe and litigation in the court of law, the online article further explored in new details how love struck IGP appears to be relating with his new wife, Astha Ibrahim, a former low ranking officer, who then went ahead to enjoy rapid promotion after her romantic involvement with the chief of police.

The article further impugned the head of police, accusing him of handing over operational responsibilities like officers’ transfer to the wife, even though retired. There hasn’t been any formal rebuttal from the office of the IGP. While Idris is in Benue after being ordered to relocate by President Mohammadu Buhari after the killings of over 70 community residents in the state, Tim and Daniel suffer different agonies in the hands of men of the State Anti Robbery Squads, SARS, after being plucked from their Nnewi home on 1 January this year.

The IGP apparently holds them squarely responsible for the publication.

Tim Elombah is still held incommunicado by the police. Daniel on the other hand is in intensive care at a private hospital in Garki where police have since continued to harass him. At the hospital, when armada visited Daniel, it was gathered from one of the doctors that the journalist had to be put under sedation on account of his spiraling blood pressure.

But late last week, Daniel was summoned by SARS to the police headquarters. Explaining his ordeal, Daniel said. “I was summoned to the SARS and asked to be there by 10am. I obeyed the summons. They took my statement and allowed me to go but my brother remains in detention.

“The remand order for him expired on Tuesday last week, but Tim is still being detained illegally,” Daniel stated.

On the 1st day of January 2018, men of the Federal Special Anti-Armed Robbery Squad, SARS, numbering about fifteen and armed to the teeth allegedly stormed the family compound of the Elombah’s in Edoji, Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State.

The men who struck around 5.00am on New Year day, climbed over the gate with a ladder and ransacked the entire house. At the end of the operation, six adult male members of the family including Daniel and Tim Elombah were handcuffed, herded into a bus and driven to the SARS Nnewi office where they were briefly detained. Mobile phones and laptops belonging to the members of the family were seized by the team.

No one explained the reason for their arrest thereby throwing the entire family, including their aged mother, their wives and little children into great distress.

Repeated requests for reasons for their arrests were met with a terse, “you’ll be told at the station,” from the policemen.

Their lawyer who attempted to find out the reason for the arrest was told in express terms that they were “acting on orders from above” and was not even allowed to talk to them.

From Nnewi, they were driven to the SARS headquarters in Awkuzu, near Awka, again without being told the reason for their arrest.

At the SARS state headquarters, they were handed over to a different set of four armed men who were later identified as officers from the Special Tactical Squad, STS, a crack team of operatives directly in the office of Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police.

The team leader of the STS explained to them that the Inspector General of Police, IGP, personally ordered the arrest because Tim Elombah, allegedly published an article on the online media, Elombah.com, which article was allegedly aimed at blackmailing the IGP. Repeated requests for details of the offending article were not met but they were told that they would be given the details in Abuja. The STS team leader thereafter released the eldest of the Elombah brothers while three Elombah’s namely: Daniel, Tim and Izuchukwu Elombah, were herded in handcuffs into another bus after they were briefly interrogated.

At this point, the brothers repeatedly requested to be told the offence for which they were arrested but were ignored. The allegation against Izuchukwu, a trader in Niger State was also not provided.

They left Anambra state and arrived at the STS Abuja office around 5:00pm. Tim who is also the editor-in-chief of the online news medium, Elombah.com was grilled for nearly three hours while Daniel and Izuchukwu were detained behind the Counter. All three were eventually interrogated separately for several hours. It thereafter emerged that Tim was accused of publishing the article on opinionnigeria.com.

Attempts at getting Force spokesman, Moshood Jimoh, proved unsuccessful after refusing to neither pick calls nor respond to text.

However, Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, OPAN, have since petitioned the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Reps, Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, respectively.

In their letter, through their lawyer, Malizu Iwudoh of Imperial Legal, Lagos, the association urged the lawmakers wade into the matter. They specically sought three prayers: that the lawmakers condemn the arrests and call the IGP to order; conduct a hearing into the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the detention of the Elombah’s, and the continued detention of Tim Elombah and to conduct a hearing into the excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, unit of the Nigerian Police Force.

Source: http://armada.ng/fresh-controversy-trails-police-igp-illegal-detention-london-based-lawyer-online-publisher/

OPAN Writes Buhari Over Police Harassment Of Tim And Daniel Elombah

8th January, 2018

Your Excellency,
President Muhammadu Buhari
President,
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Rock, Asokoro
Abuja.

Dear Sir,

A PETITION BY THE ONLINE PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (OPAN) TO HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI OVER THE ARBITRARY ARREST OF TIM ELOMBAH AND DANIEL ELOMBAH ON THE EXPRESS ORDERS OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE.

We are the solicitors to the registered trustees of Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, OPAN and so this petition issues on their behalf and instructions.

The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, OPAN, is Nigeria’s premier association of digital/new media publishers.

Daniel Elombah and Tim Elombah, are the Publisher and Editor respectively, of the United Kingdom based online news website, Elombah.com.

On the 1st day of January 2018, men of the Federal Special Anti-Armed Robbery Squad, SARS, numbering about fifteen and armed to the teeth stormed the family compound of the Elombah’s in Edoji, Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State.

The men who struck around 5.00am on the new year day climbed over the gate with a ladder and ransacked the entire house. At the end of the operation, six (6) adult male members of the family including Daniel and Tim Elombah were handcuffed, herded into a rickety bus and driven to the SARS Nnewi office where they were briefly detained. Mobile phones and laptops belonging to the members of the family were seized by the team.

No one explained the reason for their arrest thereby throwing the entire family, including their aged mother, their wives and little children into great distress. Repeated requests for the reason for their arrest was met with a terse, “you’ll be told at the station”.

Their lawyer who attempted to find out the reason for the arrest was told in express terms that they were “acting on orders from above” and was not even allowed to talk to them.

From Nnewi they were driven to the SARS headquarters in Awkuzu, near Awka, again without being told the reason for their arrest.

At the SARS state headquarters, they were handed over to a different set of four armed men who were later identified as officers from the Special Tactical Squad, STS, a crack team of operatives directly in the office of Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police.

The team leader of the STS explained to them that the Inspector General of Police, IGP, personally ordered the arrest because Tim Elombah, allegedly published an article on the online media, Elombah.com, which article was allegedly aimed at blackmailing the IGP. Repeated requests for details of the offending article were not met but they were told that they will be given the details in Abuja. The STS team leader thereafter released the eldest of the Elombah brothers while three Elombah’s namely: Daniel, Tim and Izuchukwu Elombah were herded in handcuffs into another bus after they were briefly interrogated.

At this point, the brothers repeatedly requested to be told the offence for which they were arrested but were ignored. The allegation against Izuchukwu, a trader in Niger State was also not provided.

They left Anambra state and arrived at the STS Abuja office around 5:00pm. Tim who is also the editor-in-chief of the online news medium, Elombah.com was grilled for nearly three hours while Daniel and Izuchukwu were detained behind the Counter. All three were eventually interrogated separately for several hours. It thereafter emerged that Tim was accused of publishing a defamatory article on a website.

The article titled “IGP Ibrahim Idris’s Unending Baggage of Controversies” was published as an opinion piece on Opinionnigeria.com, an online medium that was hitherto unknown to them. Moreover, the author of the said article was one Ebiowei Dickson, again a very strange name to the three brothers.

Tim repeatedly denied writing the article which in any case was NOT published on Elombah.com. Tim also denied knowing the identity of Ebiowei Dickson.

Daniel and Izuchukwu Elombah was eventually released after much pressure from friends, but Tim Elombah remains in detention.

The police filed a motion ex parte and got a remand order from an area court of the FCT for a further seven days detention for Tim Elombah.
Up till now, the Police have not revealed to Daniel, Tim and Izuchukwu Elombah their alleged offences. No one has informed them why they were abducted from their country home, handcuffed like criminals and transported in a bus over a very bad road for 700 miles to Abuja. Izuchukwu was assaulted, slapped, punched and beaten. They were physically and psychologically tortured and traumatized! Their mother’s blood pressure shot through the roof and she is presently undergoing medical treatment. Their children were traumatized at the sight of gun totting hefty men that were initially mistaken for armed robbers or kidnappers banging at doors and waking up the entire household in the wee hours of the morning of the new year day. Daniel’s movement is restricted and he is not allowed to leave the country. That means that his family could not travel back to London as scheduled to enable their two children resume schooling. The schools resumed on Wednesday 3rdJanuary in London.

Though the police has declined to publicly state why the journalists were brutalized and arrested in the wee hours of New Year’s Day in their family home in Nnewi, Anambra State, independent finding shows that the arrest was premised on an opinion article titled “LGP Ibrahim Idris’s Unending Baggage of Controversies” written by Eboiwei Dickson, that was published on another website – Opinion Nigeria – which the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris found offensive. If so, at best what Tim Elombah is accused of doing was libel, and therefore, absolutely a civil matter. This squarely means that the IGP inputted criminality into an otherwise civil matter and unleashed the full might of the Nigerian Police Force on the defenseless Elombah’s.

We also note that no formal invitation was ever given to the Elombah’s.

OPAN views the assault on Elombah.com, Daniel, Tim and Izuchukwu Elombah as a gross violation of their persons and fundamental right as enshrined in the constitution.

OPAN therefore prays the President:
1. To condemn the arrest and call the IGP to order
2. To set up a panel of inquiry to look into the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the detention of the Elombah’s, and the continued detention of Tim Elombah.
3. To set up a panel of inquiry to look into the excesses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, unit of the Nigerian Police Force.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,
For: Imperial Legal

MALIZU IWUDOH Esq

Police Continues To Detain Tim Elombah Illegally

The Nigerian Police Force has continued to detain Tim Elombah despite requests by both international and local civil organisations for his release. 

An Area Court Judge had earlier remanded Mr Elombah in Police custody.

The remand for Tim Elombah’s detention expired on Monday  but the Police has continued to detain Mr Elombah illegally.

Tim had denied committing the alleged offence for which he was arrested.

Tim Elombah, the Editor of Elombah. Com an online newspapers was arrested  by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) along with the Publisher of the newspaper,  Daniel Elombah and their younger brother Izuchukwu Elombah in the wee hours of New Year’s Day in their family home in Nnewi, Anambra State.

Daniel who was released on bail appeared at the office of The Special Tactical Squad, Abuja and thereafter issued a statement. 

Findings revealed that the Elombah brothers were arrested for an opinion article titled “ IGP Ibrahim Idris’s Unending Baggage of Controversies” written by one Eboiwei Dickson, that was published on another website – opinion Nigeria – which the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris found offensive.

Elombah: UK Solicitors Petition PM Over Police Brutality Against British Citizen

3 UK based solicitors have have petitioned the British MP, Lyn Brown, the PM, Theresa May and the Foreign affairs Minister Boris Johnson over the arrest and continued harrasment of Mr Daniel Elombah, by the Nigerian Police.

This comes as the international Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, warned Nigerian authorities to immediately release Timothy Elombah, editor of the news website Elombah.

Uk based Solicitors Uche Enekwa, Maurine Oji and VLS Solicitors told British authorities that Security forces arrested the lawyer and journalist at his home in Nnewi, a city in Anambra state, on January 1, 2018.

Timothy Elombah’s brother, Daniel, and their lawyer Obunike Ohaegbu told CPJ that police raided the family home in the early hours, and arrested the journalist, Daniel, and four other men. Police questioned the group separately for several hours and then released everyone except for Timothy Elombah, according to his brother.

Daniel Elombah added that police told them the inspector general ordered their arrest because of what he called a defamatory article published on a news website called Opinion Nigeria.

The December 22 article was critical of Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police, according to the Premium Times.

Elombah covers Boko Haram and has reported critically on President Buhari’s son.

Daniel Elombah, who is the website’s chief executive, denied that Elombah had anything to do with the article that police said was the basis for their arrest. He added that police have charged him and Timothy Elombah with cybercrime.

Daniel Elombah, a lawyer based in London, said that police have banned him from travel, which means that he and his family cannot return to their home in the U.K.

Jeff Okoroafor, the founder and publisher of Opinion Nigeria told CPJ that police requested the article be removed, but that he refused. He said no further action was taken. Ebiowei Dickson, who wrote the article, did not immediately respond to CPJ’s email.

“Nigerian authorities should immediately release Timothy Elombah, drop legal proceedings, and allow his brother Daniel to return home,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney, in New York. “Police have no business raiding a journalist’s home and locking him up just because an officer does not like something written in the press. It’s not even clear that the man they have detained had anything to do with the article they deem defamatory.”

The petition by Uche Enekwa titled- Re: Illegal and Unlawful detention of Mr Daniel Elombah ( a British Citizen) by the Inspector General of Police in Nigeria – reads in part:

My name is Uche Enekwa, a solicitor of Sabeers Stone Greene LLP.

I received a rather distressing whatsapp message from a friend / client Mr Daniel Elombah who is a British Citizen on a visit to Nigeria.

Mr Elombah went to Nigeria with his family over the Christmas period and was scheduled to return to London on or about 2nd January 2018 to enable his children resume school on on or about 3rd January.

Unknown to Mr Elombah, the Nigerian authorities had a different agenda as heavily armed men broke into and entered his family home on or about 5am January 1st 2018 with orders to arrest him and other members of his family for an undisclosed offence.

It later transpired that no offence known to Nigerian Law as currently constituted had been committed by him or any other member of his family but that the the Inspector General of Nigerian police personally ordered their arrest and detention because somebody published a less than flattering assessment of his performance as a police officer in an online media that had no connection either with Mr Elombah or any member of his family.

It is important that the British Government intervenes in this matter to establish why a British Citizen should be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment on account of an offence he did not commit and for an offence which does not exist under the Nigerian law.

The present Nigerian government has degenerated into a dictatorship with rampant arrests and summary executions by Nigerian soldiers and police at the behest of members of Mr Buhari’s government.

As you are aware, another British Citizen, Mr Nnamdi Kanu was brutally attacked by Nigerian soldiers in his home on or about September 14th 2017 and is strongly suspected that the Nigerian army acting under the instructions of president Buhari, summarily executed him together with his parents and other family members.It is alleged that Mr Kanu and his relatives were buried in mass graves at an unknown destinations.

We are rather surprised to say the least at the continued silence of the British Government in the face of the worst abuses of the rights of its citizens abroad by supposed friendly governments.

One is left to wonder whether the silence is due to the fact that British citizens of Nigerian origin are less British than other British citizens.

I hope that is not the case but will appreciate our government’s intervention in this matter to save Mr Elombah from the Nnamdi Kanu fate as the Nigerian government has a penchant for manufacturing false allegations and procuring false evidence to prove same before their courts.

An urgent response will be appreciated.

Nigerian Online Publishers Want Senate To Investigate Elombah Brothers’ Arrest

The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, OPAN that encompasses Digital/New Media Publishers has petitioned The Nigerian Senate over the arrest of Daniel and Tim Elombah, the Publisher and Editor, of United Kingdom Based Online News Website, Elombah.com by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Police, F-SARS on New Year’s Day in Edoji Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State.

OPAN also requested that the Senate launch a probe on the prevalence of attacks on online media and other journalists in the country.

The association in the letter addressed to Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said although the police is yet to give any reason for the arrest, independent finding shows that the arrest was premised on an opinion article titled “IGP Ibrahim Idris’s Unending Baggage of Controversies” written by Eboiwei Dickson, that was published on an online Medium “Opinion Nigeria” with the IGP ordering his arrest after finding it offensive.

According to the Petition, “At the end of the operation which started around 5am on New Year’s Day, 6 adult male members of the family were handcuffed, herded into a rickety bus and driven to the SARS Nnewi Office where they were briefly detained.”

OPAN said the incident which has caused distress in the family should be addressed as soon as possible by the National Assembly to put an end to the unfortunate cases of harassment of Journalists across the country.

Elombah Sues IGP For N2bn

Blogger, Daniel Elombah, the UK based lawyer and publisher of Elombah.com has petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and the Nigerian Police Force before an Abuja High Court in the FCT.

He is also seeking N2bn as damages for the unlawful arrest of himself and his brother by men of the Federal Swift Anti-Robbery Squad F-SARS, Dan on the 1st of January, 2018.

The suit motion captioned FCT/HC/0567/18 was filed by Daniel Elombah, Izuchukwu Elombah and Chief Obum Ohaegbu and the Nigeria Police Force with its IGP as the 2 respondents.

The suit is instituted as an application for the enforcement of fundamental rights in pursuant to Order 2 Rule 1 and 4; Order 6 Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, Cap 62 Laws of the Federation 1990.

It is also in line with Article 6 & 7 (B) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Retification and Enforcement) Acts Cap 10 Laws of the Federation 1990 and Sections 35 (1)(4), 43 & 46(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

It will be recalled that Daniel, his brother Tim and 4 other persons were arrested at their family house in Nnewi, Anambra State on New Year’s Day on the orders of the IGP.

Daniel was released on Tuesday last week while his brother, Tim is facing alleged defamation charges at an Area Court in Mpape, FCT.

Court Rules On Tim Elombah’s Oral Application For Bail

An Area Court sitting in Mpape, Abuja will today (Tuesday) rule on the oral bail application of Tim Elombah arrested alongside his brother, Dan last week by men of the Nigeria Police Force F-SARS.

Tim was arraigned last week after his brother Daniel, an online publisher where he was Editor for posting an alleged ostentatious article on Elombah.com was released owing to media outcry across the federation.

Last Tuesday, the court empowered the police to detain Tim Elombah for an extra 7 days in custody.

According to those in court, the court said “In the matter of an application by commissioner of police for an order of the Honorable Court to remand the Respondent in prison custody for a period of 14 days pending the completion of police investigation and filing a former charge.”

“However, the judge granted 7 days to the police to be resumed on the 9th January, 2018.”

Indications also emerged that he will likely be charged for defamation, a law that the Lagos State Government has expunged.

During the sitting, the police asked for 14 days through a motion exparte which is unknown in law as the defendant must be put on notice.

The judge however decided to hear it and granted 7 days.

However, the lawyers present intend to get the court papers and file to vacate the order.

1984 Again? ( The case of the Elombah’s), By Akeem Soboyede

In George Orwell’s novel, 1984, a larger-than-life “Big Brother” superintends over the affairs of subjugated members of society. He is aided in this nefarious role by minions who staff an odious “Thought Police” that victimizes and tortures perceived adversaries of the state, even for alleged “mind crimes” (however plausible), among other cruelties.

In Major-General Muhammadu Buhari’s Nigeria of the year 1984, the term that ruled the land was “Decree 4”, a nomenclature for a draconian piece of military legislation that prescribed jail terms for journalists who published what the-then military government headed by the country’s present leader literally perceived as “uncomfortable truths”, no matter the veracity of such reports. Two Nigerian journalists at that time felt the decree’s cruel sting when they were tried and jailed under its martial fiats.

The application of Decree 4 and other draconian edicts under the Buhari military government only helped build a reputation for the man who would later become Nigeria’s democratically-elected President as a Big Brother-type dictator who brooked neither criticism nor counsel, however factual or well-intentioned. That image, of course, was not wholly-deserved: it subsequently came to light after the demise of the Buhari military administration that many of his influential subordinates in the same military government he led actually trampled—and very visibly so—on the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens in order to literally give the tough-looking leader a bad name in order to hang him later with a successful coup d’etat.

Which they did.  Anyone remembers the well-publicized raid ostensibly “ordered” by Head of State Buhari on the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s house in Apapa, Lagos in 1984?

While this may yet be a far-fetched rationalization, it appears certain Fifth Columnists are also now hard at work in the incumbent, democratically-elected government of President Muhammadu Buhari.  Only a few days ago one Daniel Elombah published a quite riveting piece (which I recommend to everyone who has not yet read it) on the acts of intimidation, torture and false imprisonment, among others, that he and other members of his family suffered in the early hours of New Year’s Day, at the jackboothands of certain members of the Nigerian Police.

According to Elombah, who is a London-based lawyer he, his brothers and other members of the family were rudely roused from their sleep in the most raucous and indecent manner, without even the simply courtesy of being told why they were subjected to such treatment by agents of the Nigerian state. Leaving their targets’ aged mother, wives and little children alarmed and hypertensive in their jackboots’ wake, the armed state agents who intruded into the Elombah country home then forced the brothers into vehicles that traversed 500 bumpy and treacherous miles from that home in the Eastern part of Nigeria, before finally coming to a halt in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.

According to Daniel Elombah’s account, further interrogations by their state abductors revealed the “New Year Day arrests” had allegedly been ordered by Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. The latter was allegedly piqued by a publication that had allegedly appeared in an online medium, Elombah.com, founded and run by Tim Elombah, one of the brothers abducted during the dawn raid on New Year’s Day.  Subsequent explanations that the said offensive publication was neither penned by Tim Elombah nor published on his website as alleged by his traducers were discounted by the Police interrogators, who then proceeded to charge Tim Elombah with many crimes—including alleged blackmail—while parading him in handcuffs.

Acts such as the ones described in detail by Daniel Elombah in his account of his family’s nightmarish experience certainly do no credit to the government of a retired military general who, before his Phoenix-like rise to the Presidency of Nigeria in 2015, humbly and creditably declared himself a “reformed Democrat”.  It is certainly not democratic nor an exemplar of a reformed past to scale the walls of the home of citizens engaged in peaceful slumber, not give an immediate reason for their mass abduction masquerading as “arrests” and then arraign one of them on charges that evidently do not even satisfy the basic elements of such an indictment.

I recall that sometime in 2015, not too long after the swearing-in of President Buhari sequel to his well-deserved victory in the presidential polls earlier that year, I wrote an article drawing attention to the clear-and-present danger represented by certain anti-media laws and practices in Nigeria, with the focus in that article being the cynically-named Cybercrime (Prohibition) Act of 2015, particularly Section 24 (1) (a) (b) of that law. The Act had been used to corrall and unjustly-imprison two online media practitioners at that time.

This particularly-vile legislation had been promulgated and signed into law in the waning days in office of former President Goodluck Jonathan and was clearly aimed at Nigerian journalists who have since revolutionized the use of online media in shining the light on rampant acts of iniquity that hold sway in Nigeria, especially among the archetypal “high and mighty”, particularly the politically-connected.

This piece of legislation specifically seeks to punish any online publication or information that is “…grossly offensive…or knowing to be false [causes] annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult…” In retrospect, that particular provision could have been lifted verbatim from the even more odious Decree 4.

Ironically the same former President Jonathan has directly and through the activities of such proxies as his ex-media aide Reno Omokri, largely used articles and rebuttals published on online media to burnish his personal image and the acts of his government that have come under intensive and very negative scrutiny since he departed office!

I equally believe much of such defenses and rebuttals launched by Omokri and others on Jonathan’s behalf since May 29, 2015 have not only been perceived as “false” by many now ensconsed in the corridors of power in Nigeria, the latter have also undoubtedly found the bulk of such missives (especially those by Omokri) “annoying”, Inconveniencing”, “dangerous”, “obstructive”, insulting”, etc.

Even worse is the growing trend by those who wield any kind of power and influence in Nigeria to proclaim any publication which seeks to expose their iniquitous acts as “blackmail”. The IGP allegedly used that term to describe the publication he supposedly used as an excuse to detain the Elombah brothers and haul one of them before a Court on patently-dubious charges. It is equally the term-of-art that has been variously employed to justify the apparent and continuing physical, mental and psychological torture of blogger Kemi Olunloyo, who remains in detention as of this writing for publishing materials numerous third parties who should know have testified to their veracity or have acknowledged as substantially true.

Needless to add, spurious accusations of “blackmail” against those who expose or seek to shine a spotlight on the illegal / corrupt acts of public office holders and the personal malfeasance of individuals who hold public office or are well-connected should not be used to innoculate such against exposure of their wrongs.

The “reformed Democrat” in Aso Rock (and I do believe President Buhari really is one)  should take action to stem this growing tide of public officials and well-connected private citizens who use the instrumentalities of the Nigerian state (and in many cases, ill-gotten personal resources) to harass, assault, jail or otherwise injure patriots who do their bit to create a Nigeria of which we can all be proud.

— Soboyede is a US-based attorney.

UPDATE: Reasons Why Journalist, Elombah Arrested By Nigerian Government

Here are reasons why the publisher of Elombah.com and United Kingdom based lawyer, Mr. Daniel Elombah was arrested by officers attached to the notorious Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Nigerian police.

Daniel, who is also the General Secretary of the Online Publishers Association, OPAN, was arrested alongside his brothers from their family house in Edoji-Uruagu Nnewi, Anambra State in the wee hours of the New Year’s Day of 2018.

The officers who stormed the compound in a commando-styled operation refused to give reasons why the journalist was being arrested as his wife, two kids and aged mother watched in horror. They just said they were acting based on “orders from above” as they shackled him and others in cuffs before taking them away in one of the vans they came in.

According to information, the duo were moved to Abuja office of the F-SARS in Akuku.

Reports say Dan Elombah was arrested for reason unrelated to him. Surprisingly, he was mistakenly arrested.

Sources close to him confided in OsunDefender that discussions are on for his release.

The source said “Some people are also on ground. Hopefully, Press conference will be held tomorrow by his team of Lawyers.”