By Jonathan Ugbal
The arrest of Mr. Paul Ifere, a social media critic of the Cross River State Government has drawn mixed reactions from different quarters of the populace.
Mr. Ifere was allegedly arrested by the Police Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city and immediately transferred to Calabar, the Cross River State capital with many fingering state actors for the action.
And, the Police has confirmed this to CrossRiverWatch with the Commissioner for Police in the state, CP Hafiz Inuwa in an exclusive interview saying that the Police command has been looking for Mr. Ifere.
He said that: “Even before I came to Cross River state, there were complaints against Ifere Paul. Because for every serious crime that took place in Cross River state, before you say Jack Robinson, this guy will post it in the social media that such thing has happened and there was a post he made which he said Cross River should expect more armed robbery and kidnapping on his (social media) platform.
“So since then, police has been looking for him and he has been running away from the state. Ever since, we have been looking for him and yesterday, we were lucky to stumble on him in Abuja.
“He was hiding in Abuja. So he was arrested. Why we arrested him is because of all these and for somebody whom he said some people were planning to kill and that he was the one who talked to them not to kill him.
“So we want to know; for somebody who is involved in all these things, what is his relationship with the propensity of crime that is going on? We have to investigate and find out.
“If he is guilty of it, we will charge him to court and if he is not, we let him go. Ours is to protect life and property and prevent the committing of any crime.”
When reminded that the State Attorney General, Joe Oshie Abang, had earlier purportedly declared Ifere wanted over same comments but that his predecessor, CP Obe Oze, dismissed the allegation as politics and insisted that only the police can declare anyone wanted, CP Hafiz agreed that it is the police that can declare anyone wanted adding that the Command never declared Ifere Paul, wanted at anytime but they have been looking for him.
When asked if the arrest was politically motivated, CP Inuwa said he is not a politician and does his job as a professional.
“I have no relationship whatsoever with the ruling party or politicians in the state. For the governor, regardless of the name of his party, I am under obligation by my work as CP to work with him. Beyond that, I am not a politician. I don’t have any business with politicians to warrant anyone making that assumption,” said CP Inuwa.
Ifere Detained Without Legal Justification – APC
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, has claimed that Mr. Ifere’s arrest has no legal justification and called for his immediate release.
A statement signed by its spokesperson, Mr. Mens Ikpeme said that: “Whosoever ordered his arrest under the assumptions of legal authority deprived Paul’s liberty of movement and screened him away from seeing his lawyer and his people is very malicious.”
The party accused the state government of arresting Mr. Ifere in a bid to restrain him “from going about his normal day to day business because Paul Ifere acted in good faith to uncover the fraudulent antics of the state government,” and listed some allegations made by Mr. Ifere in his Facebook timeline.
Calling for his urgent release, the APC said that: “With such improper arrest, improper captivity, improper commitment to police cell, improper confinement, improper constraints, improper deprivation of liberty, improper imprisonment, improper incarceration, illegal restraints, improper placement into custody, improper seizure, wrong captivity, wrongful placement to custody is a direct and gross violation of Paul Ifere’s human rights.
“All Progressives Congress will do everything legally possible to protect the fundamental human rights of our teaming members.
“The party advices Ayade and his inept government to face the challenges of governance and stop this unlawful/illegal activities,” and sued for calm amongst party faithful.
Lawyer Sues For Enforcement Of Fundamental Human Rights
And, legal practitioner, Barrister Max Ogar, has filed a motion for the enforcement of the fundamental human rights of Mr. Ifere at the Abuja judicial division of the Federal High Court.
The application dated October 20, 2017 and obtained by CrossRiverWatch sought the court for the following reliefs:
1. An order directing the respondent (which is the Inspector General of Police) and his privies (including but not limited to the Cross River State Police Command) to release the applicant (Mr. Ifere Paul) immediately from the command’s office at Diamond hill Calabar.
2. An order restraining the respondent and his privies from further arresting and detaining the applicant unlawfully in any police formation within Nigeria and particularly, Cross River State.
3. An order declaring his arrest and detention as been unlawful and unconstitutional and
4. Any other order as may be deemed necessary.
As at press time, CrossRiverWatch findings revealed that Mr. Ifere was still being held at Diamond hill and efforts to see him failed.