TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY OSUN STATE CIVIL SOCIETIES COALITION AGAINST
CORRUPTION AND RIGHTS VIOLATIONS (OSCARV) ON MARKING THE WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS DAY TODAY
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 10, 2008
The OSCARV welcomes the gentlemen of the pen profession to this press conference – to mark the World Human Rights Day. As you may know, observance of the rule of law is strategic to the preservation of human rights in any human society. Indeed, it is the observance of the rule of law that ensures fairness, equity and justice – all variables that bring about good governance, egalitarian society and civilization. Thus, it is not by accident that civilization, progress and development has been the hallmark of those countries that give cogent respect to the individual rights and liberties. It is noteworthy too that rulers of countries, where rule of law is adhered; where individual rights and liberties are protected are surely going to abhor all vices including corruption that may put smooth operation of the society at a disadvantage.
Gentlemen of the Press, as you may be aware, Nigeria is a member of the United Nations Organization (UNO) which, through its charter of freedom specifically contained in Article 3 of Universal Declaration on Human and Peoples Rights, it states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. It is in fulfillment of this charter that various rights–oriented organizations were established to watch over the adherence to the rights of the peoples of the world. It is in furtherance of this that this day December 10, was set aside to mark the essence of respect for individual world citizens’ rights and liberties. OSCARV appreciates deeply, the need for the rights and liberties of the people, hence our desire to mark this important day. Much more important is the deplorable condition and great abuse to which the rights and liberties of the people of Osun State have been subjected in the last five years of Oyinlola administration.
You will recollect that OSCARV addressed you not too long ago over the incessant extra-judicial killings and dehumanization to which citizens are subjected, we nonetheless wish to use this day to call the attention of all authorities at the national level, to, not just take interest in the abnormal situation in Osun State but should take steps to halt it.
We note that a situation whereby the Oyinlola administration, the Police and other security agencies, seem to have collaborated to undermine the rights and liberties of the people. We have noted several conscious efforts by the ruling party and its accomplices in the security apparatus of state who have singled out those in opposition and/or those that do not share the PDP orientations of sleaze, mal-administration, proven cases of official corruption and evidential capital flight from Osun State for punishment. All these have worsened the poverty level among the citizenry. Persecution of the opposition has always come in the most unmerited and excruciating circumstances. We declare that this is most unjust and condemnable.
OSCARV notes that historically, perpetrators of these heinous criminalities who hide under the banner of state security are incapable of handling the fatal consequences.
OSCARV draws attention to the Yar’Adua led PDP Federal government’s often mentioned commitment to the rule of law. Like many Nigerians, we are not fascinated about the Yar’Adua government’s mouthing of the rule of law mantra as there has not been any substance to the claim. Perhaps, President Yar’Adua’s government is willing but unable in view of his predecessor’s apparent lack of regard for human life, human rights and liberty. It could still mean the usual PDP talk and no action. Whichever it is, OSCARV gives it to the Yar’Adua government for mouthing adherence to the rule of law. This is against the background of what is obtainable in Osun State under Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
In the last five years, what we have had to contend with is a reincarnation of the drama of violation of human rights in the inglorious days of late General Sani Abacha. Philosophers have said it that “A Leopard never changes its skin” and it has proved to be true in Osun State today.
May we remind the gentlemen of the press that Governor Oyinlola was the Military Administrator in Lagos during the Abacha time when many people disappeared, were killed, bombed out of existence, arrested, detained, manhandled, jailed, tortured, dehumanized and forced into exile. You also know that the Captain of the drama of absurdity in Osun State is strange to democratic engagements. This character simply does not have any democratic background and will respond with Zombie instinct.
It is for this reason, in the main, and his ability to compromise anybody through corruption that makes even mouthing of the rule of law impossible in Osun State. Really, we have every reason to believe that the propensity of Oyinlola to corrupt and compromise anybody goes beyond Osun State. We assume this in view of several reports of rights violations and extra-judicial killings made to authorities outside Osun and without any response or action taken. If this would not be so, then silence by those who were concerned is not just criminal but un-Godly. If the truth must be told, the refusal to respond to the Osun human rights crisis is a manifestation of PDP-Federal Government’s insincerity at adhering to the rule of law.
As at today, the presidency, the National Security Adviser, the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the State Security Service, the Executive Director of National Human Rights Commission, the House of Representatives Committee on Human rights, prominent Nigerians etc have been either by private or public correspondences, informed of the rights violations, abuse of liberties and extra judicial killings that have been rampant in Osun State for five years now.
OSCARV recalled some of the issues/occurrences that were brought to your notice at our last press conference. The Gestapo-like night arrest of Alhaji Layi Oyeduntan, a personal friend of Aregbesola, AC governorship candidate and golf-playmate of Governor Oyinlola. A chartered accountant, prominent son of Osogbo and former commissioner, Oyeduntan had his home invaded by the police in Osun State at about 9.00pm on October 18, 2008. Oyeduntan’s Alsatian dog that thought the invaders, who had nothing on to show they were police officers was shot dead for daring to safeguard its environment. Residents of Oroki Estate where Oyeduntan lives were already in panic in view of unprofessional usage of arms by the invading policemen led by DSP Adekunle Ayuba, the officer in charge of legal matters for the Osun command.
OSCARV assumes nefarious intention in this act that is far beyond the bomb blast allegation pasted on him. Besides, we observe that there is nowhere with civilization that a thing like night arrest will happen. A country where there is rule of law will not have the police that recklessly deploy arms the way it was used in Oyeduntan’s house.
The blockade of Hon. Sunday Akere’s vehicle on the highway can not be part of police style of arresting where the individual rights and liberties are secured. In civilized countries where the rule of law is adhere to, no police will use commando method that suggest armed robbers’ attack and caused multiple accidents to effect the arrest of a defenseless individual who was being alleged of bomb throwing by a fascist and unpopular regime.
OSCARV informed you of the torture and manhandling to which anybody pointed out for arrest by Oyinlola led PDP government by the police are subjected to in various police cells but especially at SARS and Eagle squad specially created for the purpose of annihilating the opposition.
OSCARV also brought to your attention the fact that the Osun police, rather than work for the purpose of every member of the society would rather do master Oyinlola’s biddings at whatever cost. We reported how this has led to loss of confidence in the state police command as it chase around, arrest and filled its cells with “political offenders” while criminals have a field day rattling the people and making away with their nefarious activities.
OSCARV notes the ripple effect of compromising the police by the Oyinlola led PDP government to have the leading lights of the opposition extinguished which has now been extended to members of the public. We reported the killing in Ede “A” Divisional Police station of Mrs. Misitura Adesina after persistent beating and torture that lasted for about 10 hours. Misitura, nursing mother of a 5-month old baby and three others were observing Ramadan fast when she was arrested for alleged stealing. Police officers in Ede “A” station do not fancy modern policing ethics of interrogation and investigation.
Dispatching accused persons to early grave seems to them a better choice. Attempt by the family to call for justice is being muffled by the police through a combination of threat and blackmail. Oladipo Agboola, we told you, was killed at the SARS cell. Agboola, an Okada rider who was eager to be better educated for a better tomorrow had his dream cut short some to days after he was arrested for stealing. A father of one child whose wife carried the second pregnancy, Agboola, the police excused, was shot in his bid to escape. Dauda Najim, a mechanic in Osogbo was arrested on the allegation of theft, thus leading to his arrest and detention in the Ataoja Police station. After his death in the cell, obviously as a result of severe torture, the Ataoja policemen declared that Dauda Najim committed suicide.
These and many more are indicators of the Osun Police Command’s lack of respect for human life as enshrined in the 1999 Nigeria Constitution, Section 33(1) says “every person shall have a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria”. The actions of the police in Ede “A” police station, Ataoja station, SARS and others where torture to death of suspects/accused negates this provision of the constitution.
OSCARV wishes to say that worst forms of rights abuse and liberties curtailments have occurred in the past to members of the opposition at the behest of the Oyinlola-led PDP government. In most cases, the police and Oyinlola government were not the only culpable parties. The judiciary expected to be the final arbiter and the hope to the cheated and oppressed has played the role of more than a willing tool in the denigration of human rights in Osun State. The Oyinlola led PDP government will make the allegations, mostly frivolous and far off the mark of reasonability. The police will arrest, detain, often more than five days during which various inhuman psychological torture are dealt on the person(s) and then charge him/them to court with the most un-imaginable offence(s). The magistrate/judge, as the case may be, after listening to the ridiculous and mostly laughable charges will have the “accused” remanded in prison custody for a season – always not lesser than a month. The truth is that the magistrate/judge knows such cases has political connotations, in which case, sending the accused to jail on remand is what will satisfy the wicked intention of the Oyinlola government. Let us serve you excerpts of some of the laughable offences but which are rights violation and liberty curtailing:
-Abiodun Olaniyan and one other person were charged to court for “conduct likely to cause breach of peace by falsely claiming to belong to Yoruba Elders Coalition on election monitoring”.
-Adepoju Remi, Rahaman Akingboye and Felix Olakunle were arrested on April 14, 2007 for video recording the election process. After spending several days in the police cell under heavy torture, they were charged to court for “conduct likely to cause breach of peace for recording election procedure”.
-Seun and Aramide Jayeola in Okuku, still in Odo Otin Local Government were arrested, detained, tried and remanded in prison for offence as above.
-Ganiyu Ladejobi and 9 others were arrested, detained in police cell for several days before been charged to court and remanded in prison. Their offence was unlawful assembly and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
-Amidu Suara is a minor of 14 years old who was arrested and detained in police cell for 10 days. He was charged to court for committing arson on Chief Adeleke Oduola’s house at a magistrate court and was remanded in prison custody for a long time.
-Tosin Adanlawo, a horse-rider for Engr. Rauf Aregbesola was arrested, detained for several days and charged to court for conspiracy to disturb peace. Adanlawo was remanded in prison for along time but was not charged with another person. You wonder who Adanlawo conspired with to disturb peace.
-Gbenga Akanbi and 72 others were arrested by the soldiers of invasion brought into Ilesa by Oyinlola on April 16, 2008. They were detained for several days in police cell before being charged to court for unlawful assembly and rioting. The magistrate remanded them variously for times between 5 -12 weeks at the prison.
-Abiodun Adeniji and 18 others were accused of willful damage and arson in Osogbo. They went through the usual rites of police detention, charged to court and remanded in prison.
-Johnson Moronkola and one other person, were in Ifetedo arrested on April 14, 2007 for possessing and using walkie – talkie. He was not spared the routine of arrest, police detention, charge to court and remanded in prison custody.
-Isiaka Hassan and eight others were arrested, detained and charged for “conducting themselves in such a way to interfere with ballot papers” on April 14, 2007.
-17 year old Tosin Ajakaye was raped by some PDP stalwarts for belonging to another party. Culprits were not arrested until there were deafening media reports on it. Almost a year after now, they were yet to be charged to court for defiling a minor.
-Elected members of Osun State House of Assembly – Folarin Fafowora, Timothy Owoeye, Akintunde Adegboye, Laide Ajibola were arrested on or before the day of their inauguration on June 4, 2007. They were made to go through the draconian phases of police detention, defective charges, arraignment at court and predictable jail detention. Their cases could not be continued for obvious reasons of lack of substance to sustain it. Yet, they are kept on as means to rein them in perpetuity by Oyinlola government.
We can not but talk about collaborative shenanigan being perfected against the duo of Alhaji Moshood Adeoti and Prince Gboyega Famodun by the Oyinlola government, The Police and the judiciary. The two were part of the 23 leaders of Action Congress (AC) unilaterally declared wanted few days after the April 14, 2007 election. Their offence was according to the evil schemers, arson consequent to the spontaneous reaction of the people to the lie told by INEC that Oyinlola won the election. It will interest you to know that Adeoti, an indigene of Iwo and who resides there was alleged to have committed the offence in Osogbo. Also, Famodun who escaped being killed by PDP hatchet men on elections day in the palace of the Owa of Igbajo, however, lost one of his party agents in his Igbajo home town to their bullets. It is an irony that a supposed victim of violence is being incarcerated for it. Such is only possible in Osun State where the banana republic is unfolding.
Gentlemen of the press, let us say it is the same Adeoti and Famodun who were run out of town by the unjust wanted declaration by the police but at pleasure of autocratic Oyinlola government are been alleged of the ridiculous bomb throwing. The obvious physiological and psychological challenge heaped on these two leaders of AC made court attendance impossible twice. This was said to have been communicated verbally to the prosecution. But the judge felt it was a deliberate spawning of his court and this slammed a three week detention on them. You cannot say this is fair or just on the persons who willingly reported to the police, on being told of the pending allegation of bomb throwing. Adeoti and Famoodun did not willfully run from court and would rather respect the law as their reporting at the police, twice now, has shown. If they have any skeleton in their cupboards, they could have exploited the available means to ignore the Osun police command’s request on them to report.
The point being made is that the Oyinlola led PDP government in Osun State exhibits high-level intolerance of the opposition that it was ready to use any means to keep them out of circulation. Quite Machiavellian in nature, Oyinlola government’s inability to allow different opinion now extends to other members of the society that share views, other than their own. As is usual, the police command in the stated is the willing tools.
It is a well-known fact to all that the AC candidate, Engr. Aregbesola enjoys tremendous support of artisans, especially the Okada riders who saw in him, the viable alternative for better days ahead. This, obviously and expectedly is to the consternation of Oyinlola and PDP. Attempts were made conscientiously to lure the Okada riders from the chosen path by Oyinlola and the PDP to no avail. Thus, a regime of hard time is presently being foisted on Okada riders in Osun State by the police. To be sure, and probably to drive home the point, CP John Moronike seems to have taken the need to rein in the Okada people personal. In the bid to convince his master, Oyinlola that he was up to the task of cutting the wings of the Okada men, Moronike leads assaults on them with horse-whip beatings, as he did in the case of protesters at the premises of Osogbo high court.
May we note with emphasis, that aside a new set of questionable and draconian rules guiding the operation of Okada riders and which are sufficiently stifling, more of measures of punishments, the okada men now suffer untold maltreatment, including extortion of their lean earnings from the police.
All of the above and many more that are not recorded have negated the essence of earmarking today as the World Human Rights Day. While other states are aiming for the moon, Osun State under Olagunsoye Oyinlola has been returning to the cave-dwelling days by his anti-human rights posture. This, along with his lackluster performance bordering of deceitful projects execution and corrupt tendencies, all of which have its root in his anti –democratic antecedents made Oyinlola the most un-attractive governor that has ever ruled Osun state. We are certain that he will go down in history as one ruthless governor who pretends by saying what he does not mean.
For the police and the judiciary, a serious crisis of confidence already exist between them and the people of Osun State. They are mostly hissed and sneered at whenever they carry an hatchet man’s job for the Oyinlola government. Really, the people do more as they anticipated the opportune time when a stop of whatever form or character could be put to the repression on them by the powerful collaborative coercion in the society – vis; Oyinlola government, the police/other security outfits and the judiciary.
The perception of an average Osun indigene who had undergone persecutions in the hands of these collaborating oppressors is that of wicked enemies who should be stopped in their tracks. Be that as it may, OSCARV believes in positive change for a better society, thus we call on all men of goodwill to come in to Osun crisis specifically, we request for an inquest/inquiry into the horrendous torture of the people of Osun State by the heartless Oyinlola government.
President Umar Musa Yar’Adua will not say he was not told if the over-stretched elastic patience of the Osun people snaps. If the president ever intended adhering to the rule of law, he has ample examples to demonstrate it in the Osun crisis. There is no better time to act than now, the World Human Rights Day. A stitch in time, they say saves nine.
May we seize this opportunity to urge the police and the judiciary to purge themselves of the unprofessional subservience to illegalities which, impugn on their individual and corporate integrity and professional ethics. For the police, rather than be a tail wagging the dog towards Oyinlola’s side, crime fighting for the protection of life and property, as is the core of policing job should be squarely faced. The escalating crime wave in Osun State deserves better police attention than the present scenario where the police seem more interested in fighting political opposition on behalf of inept government in power than crime fighting.
A situation whereby Osun Police command has abandoned its primary role of curbing present high crime rate in Osun State for constant bribe taking is condemnable. Members of Osun state Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) continue with their illegal mass arrest of innocent citizens at bus-stops and other public places on trumped up charges of suspected Armed robbery. Those that do not have money to offer as bribe are immediately tortured, manhandled and consequently detained by SARS. Such categories of people are on daily basis taken to the magistrate court and subsequently dumped at various prisons across the state awaiting trial. This could be attested to by the 24 arrested and detained Human Rights activists.
Gentlemen of the press, precisely, on Saturday 6th of December, 2008 at exactly 7.30 pm at Gbodofon bridge area, a detachment of SARS unit were seen carrying out mass arrest of innocent pedestrians at the bus-stop on flimsy excuse of wandering. The arrested pedestrians were taken to an unknown destination. One interesting thing about this illegal arrest was that, it was carried out by so-called “SARS officers” in MUFTI branding dangerous weapons such as knives and axes including rifles.
OSCARV also condemned a situation whereby armed robbers have taken over all major roads in Osun State killing and maiming innocent souls even in broad day light and yet the police commissioner seems helpless and bereft of ideas. We hereby reiterate our earlier call for immediate redeployment of the police commissioner and a complete over haul of the Osun State police command.
The Osun judiciary will do well to live up to be an impartial arbiter where the last hope of citizens resides. Indeed, the essence of human rights protection or abuse lies with the judiciary. Their inability not to live up may ignite the society, we dare say.
Lastly, we call for the immediate withdrawal of Mr Jide Falola from the list of names submitted for selection as Osun State High Court Judge. A corrupt and compromised magistrate like Mr. Falola is a disaster in waiting to the judiciary should he be appointed as an high court judge considering his antecedence while serving as a magistrate. He was always a ready-made tool to do the bidding of the ruling government; throwing all decorum into the wind as long as its suites the interest of his master, Oyinlola.
OSCARV will continue to fight for an egalitarian and just society, where absolute respect for rule of law thrives.
Thank you for coming.