Kogi State PDP, APC trade words over arrest, detention of youth coordinator
The continued detention of Mr. Austin Okai, national coordinator of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Youth Alliance, has pitted Kogi state chapter of the party against the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government in the state.
In particular, the state chapter of PDP accused Governor Yahaya Bello and the APC of what it termed ‘dictatorship and tyranny’ over the arrest and detention of Okai.
PDP said that the Okai incident add to the spate of arrests and harassment by law enforcement agents in the state, of people, especially journalists, who are thought to be critical of the government.
This, the party argued smacks of a drift away from democratic tenets towards tyranny.
“The latest victim of the intimidation is citizen Austin Okai, national coordinator of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Youth Alliance. Citizen Okai was arrested Sunday afternoon on the street of Abuja by security agents on the orders of the Governor and whisked to an unknown destination,” the state publicity secretary of the PDP, Mr. Bode Ogunmola said in a statement.
Ogunmola recalled that persons like Friday Ogungbemi, publisher of the Policy and Law Maker magazine, that suffered similar fate when he was allegedly detained by the Department of State Security (DSS) for about a week last year.
Another victim according to him was McDavis Wonder a social media activist who was held for two days last month, purportedly by the same DSS.
The PDP claimed that the list is unending and that the fear of Bello is now the beginning of wisdom in the State.
“We have even heard that government rewards informants who report and give information that can lead to the arrest of any critic of its thoughtless policies. Citizens are daily hounded into torture cells in Government House and elsewhere,” the party asserted.
The publicity secretary of the PDP said the party demands the immediate and unconditional release of Okai and all other detainees of conscience whose voices the Bello administration seeks to stifle.
He said: “For as long as Nigeria is a signatory to the bill on fundamental human rights and the Nigerian constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, we call on the law enforcement agents to resist the temptation of being used for pecuniary motives by desperate politicians.”
Ogunmola warned that the recourse to Gestapo tactics against citizens is an indication of a government in the decline.
“Rather than it’s current style of trial by ordeal of citizens, we advise Governor Bello to redefine its tolerance level and tamper its adrenalin glands when reviewing citizens opinions about its activities and inactions.”
The statement noted that the PDP would no longer fold its arms or stays aloof while a “clueless and opportunistic leadership” is harassing its members.
Also stakeholders of PDP in Kogi West Senatorial district condemned the clampdown on opposition in the state accusing the Governor of visiting a reign of terror on the people.
Rising from a stakeholders meeting held in Isanlu, Yagba East Local Government, noted that Okai who had spent days in detention “over trumped up charges” and later arraigned by security agents, was rearrested in the court premises shortly after being granted bail by a magistrate court.
“We call for a halt to the rule of tyranny in Kogi State. Specifically we call for the immediate and unconditional release of Comrade Austin Okai,” the stakeholders stated in a communiqué signed by Barrister Taiwo Kola-Ojo.
They also disclosed that that leadership would henceforth
mobilize against persecution of PDP members in the zone and the state as a whole.
However, the director general (DG) Media and Strategy to the Governor, Kingsley Fanwo asked the PDP to focus on its crisis and the mass defections that has hit the party due to the ongoing membership drive of the APC.
“Their voice on the arrest of Austin Okai is mischievous, uninformed and misdirected. Austin Okai is a citizen of Nigeria who has rights. But his rights stops where the rights of others start. Freedom of expression is not meant to jeopardize and injure the integrity of others,” he said.
He explained that security agencies found his criticisms untoward and inciting hence they arrested him, hinting that he was not aware that Okai is a PDP member because they have pictures of him in APC apparels.
Furthermore, Fanwo said: “PDP’s accusation is a tyranny of freedom on its own. As a government, we are in full support of thorough investigation into Okai’s activities, his inciting statements and his desperation to malign the person of the Governor and the integrity of the government. Citizens must begin to be held responsible for their actions and inactions.”
He argued that the accusation of tyranny is reckless as such claims are puerile and unsubstantiated, stressing that people who offend the law must be made to defend themselves.
According to him, the Bello administration would remain committed to the anchors of democratic governance and free space with the belief that every freedom demands responsibilities.
The DG urged PDP leaders not be jittery, as Police investigations would reveal all they are hiding and the people of the State would know the real enemies of the state.
He maintained that the government would not be cowed by social media propaganda, saying: “We know where we are coming from and we know where we are going. PDP leaders should tell us what they did with our commonwealth for over 12 years. Corruption is more tyrannical than asking suspects to give explanations on their suspected crimes.”
He distanced the Governor from dictatorial tendencies, insisting that as a government, “we have nothing personal against Okai. Government is concerned about the combustible remarks of the young man who could have thrived only within the system of a dead and confused political party. Government is concerned about the effect Okai’s wanton falsehood could have on the unsuspecting minds. It is the responsibility of government to protect the society against chaos.”