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Court Bars Bello, Others from Arresting ADC Candidate, Abejide

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday issued an order restraining Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and seven others, from arresting the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Hon. Leke Abejide, in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.

The order is pending the hearing and determination of a suit Abejide filed against Bello, the Nigeria Police Force, Inspector General of Police (IG) Commissioner of Police (Kogi State), Department of State Services (DSS), Director General of DSS, Director DSS (Kogi State) and the  Commandant-General, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

The judge, who specifically restrained the respondents from inviting, arresting, detaining or threatening the life and properties of the applicant, also ordered the police, DSS and NSCDC to give him maximum protection, whether in Kogi, Abuja or in any part of the country.

Justice Mohammed made the orders while ruling in an ex-parte application argued by Sammie Somiari (SAN) on behalf of the governorship candidate.

Abejide, in the ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1248/2023, had sought for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to life, dignity of person, personal liberty, fair hearing, peaceful assembly and association.

He also sought for his rights to freedom of movement and freedom from discrimination as enshrined in Sections 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42 and 43 of the 1999 Constitution and other relevant laws on human rights.

He complained that since he emerged the governorship candidate of ADC, Governor Bello had allegedly become jittery and threatened and opted to get him arrested and caged to keep him out of circulation.

The former House of Representatives member alleged that the ultimate aim of the governor is to harass, intimidate, threaten and get him out of the November 11, 2023 governorship election at all cost to pave the way for his anointed candidate in the All Progressive Congress (APC).

After listening to arguments from the senior lawyer along with tendered exhibits, Justice Mohammed issued the restraining orders against the respondents to the effect that the applicant must not be arrested, detained or harassed pending the resolution of his substantive suit.

“An order is hereby made restraining the respondents, their agents, servants and anybody acting through or under them from arresting, inviting, detaining or threatening the applicant’s life and properties pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

“An order is hereby made compelling the 2nd – 8th respondents to immediately provide maximum security for the applicant in Abuja FCT, Kogi State and elsewhere in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit,” the judge held.

The judge ordered the applicant to serve all processes in respect of the suit on the respondents and fixed September 20 for hearing of the substantive suit.

The same court had on July 13 ordered security agencies in the country to provide maximum protection for another governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the November governorship election in Kogi State, Murtala Ajaka, following similar complaints of threat to life.

In the substantive suit filed on his behalf by Ogwu James Onoja (SAN), the ADC governorship candidate prayed the court for declaration that hounding, harassment, intimidation, threat to arrest, kill, detain by Kogi Governor, using armed officers, militias and thugs to stop him from participating in the November 11 election is a violation of his rights to life and dignity of his human person.

He also wants the court to declare that the threat by Bello to attack, invade and destroy his motor vehicles, houses and offices so as to kill, arrest and detain him is a violation of his rights to peaceful assembly and association, freedom to life, dignity and personal liberty.

Abejide applied for an order of the court restraining the respondents whether by themselves, their agents or privies from arresting, abducting, detaining or further harassing, intimidating, shooting, threatening him and his properties.

The ADC governorship candidate also sought another order on Bello to pay him N2 billion for the alleged gross violation of his fundamental human rights in addition to tendering public apology.

In a 27-paragraph affidavit he personally deposed to in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff averred that the agents of the Kogi State Governor have allegedly laid siege to his house in Abuja since he became a front runner in the Kogi State governorship election.

He claimed that his protest and complaints to the IG did not yield fruitful results, hence, his decision to approach the court for protection for his life and properties.

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