Wednesday, 2 March 2016

MY ARREST, DETENTION AND TRIAL By Bemgba Iortyom.


MY ARREST, DETENTION AND TRIAL BY THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL AND THE POLICE:
I AM STRONGER, MORE DETERMINED AND FOCUSED THAN EVER.




It is no longer news that on Monday 29th February, 2016 I was arrested, interrogated, detained and arraigned in court the previous day by the Police on strength of a petition written against me by the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Benue State.

My offence, as contained in the petition, is sharing on Facebook the report by Zebra Reporters which alleged embezzlement of public funds by Gov. Samuel Ortom and some officials of the Benue State Government for personal enrichment which, according to the Attorney-General, constitutes libel and injurious defamation.

Heavily armed men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force had effected my arrest early in the morning at the premises of Kingdom Heritage Model School (KHMS), Wurukum, Makurdi where I had gone to drop my children off to school. My arrest was in the full glare of the public and done in a manner which possibly gave the impression I was a criminal.

The same police later the same day of my arrest went to my residence at No. 23, James Onyilokwu Street, High-level, Makurdi which they searched to the innermost points including my wife's and children's personal effects. They found and took into custody a Canon Optura 500 Camera which I had acquired sometime in 2007 but stopped using since 2012.

The following day I was arrainged before the Magistrate Court 3 at Modern Market, Makurdi, where charges were pressed against me by the state, as contained in the Attorney-General's petotion, and since I consider them as false, I rejected being guilty of them.

Spirited attempts were made by the prosecution lawyer from the Ministry of Justice to have me remanded in custody at the Federal Medium Security Prison in Makurdi, but the arguments of my legal team led by Lugard Usongo Esq., together with Barr. Tela Mue and Barr. Ahmed proved superior and I was granted bail by the Magistrate, Mrs. Theresa Wergba and adjournment taken till May 16th, 2016.

While this matter still subsides in the law courts, the questions which won't escape public scrutiny include;

1. Is it legally and morally correct for the Attorney-General to petition a private citizen like myself, when he is supposed to be the chief law officer for me and every citizen of the state?

2. Was it legally and morally correct to use heavily armed men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to effect my arrest in a matter that had nothing to do with violent crime?

I must at this point express my deepest appreciations to those who stood by me during this moment of challenge, and they include; Federal Commissioner of Public Complaints Commission for Benue State, Alh. Abubakar Tsav; the Opposition Caucus in the Benue State House of Assembly; members of the opposition social media team; the press and well meaning groups and individuals within and outside of Benue State.

My conviction endures that, "The man who is firm and just of purpose is shaken from his resolve neither by the rage of the people who urge him to crime nor by the countenance of the threatening tyrant"- Dean Acheson.

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