PRESS STATEMENT ON
THE ARRAIGNMENT OF PROF. STEVE UGBAH (ACN GOV. CANDIDATE, BENUE STATE) AND 14 OTHERS AT THE MAKURDI MAGISTRATE COURT 1, NORTH BANK, MAKURDI, BENUE STATE.
Today, in the wee hours of the day, our leader and Governorship candidate, Prof. Steve Ugbah and others were transferred from Force Headquarters, Abuja to Makurdi, Benue State and immediately charged to Magistrate Court No.1, North Bank, Makurdi for conspiracy, mischief and inciting disturbance in the State.
The arraignment of Prof. Ugbah and others is nothing but a political smokescreen to cover up the daylight stealing of the mandate of the Benue people by His Excellency, the Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswan and his cohorts. It is akin to armed robbers, running away from the scene of a crime and shooting sporadically to divert attention and cover up their tracks.
Our reasons for the above assertion are that till date our party has written scores of petitions to the Police authorities concerning acts of lawlessness and human rights abuses and abuse of power, privilege and office by the sitting Governor, Gabriel Suswan and his P.D.P Supporters.
Till date, nothing has been done by the police in respect of these petitions bothering on threat to life, intimidation of ACN supporters, attempted assassinations and outright assassinations, and sundry offences. However, in a sudden turn of events and reversal of roles, the ACN and its supporters have now become the subject of Police arrests, detentions, and phoney criminal charges instead of treating them as proper complainants.
It is necessary at this stage to recount some events that have led to the present sorry pass of the ACN and its supporters:
1. On April 26, 2011, the gubernatorial election held nationwide, including Benue State .
2. The results released by INEC showed that the present Governor of Benue State, purportedly won by a margin of about 91,000 votes.
3. However, the election was characterized by widespread intimidation of voters, ballot snatching, multiple thumb printing, ballot-stuffing, violence, kidnapping of ACN agents and outright manipulation of figures.
4. In a bid to cover-up these massive rigging, the Governor launched a vitriolic attack on opponents and perceived enemies, especially his most potent rivals in the Action Congress of Nigeria.
5. On Tuesday, May 10, 2011, seven gun men entered the home of the Chairman of ACN in Benue State , Comrade Abba Yaro, beat him up and his wife (breaking her teeth in the process) and demanded for the evidence so far collated by the ACN to use in the Election Tribunal. They left after carting away as much as they could.
6. On Friday, May 13, 2011, the Chief Media Adviser to the ACN Governorship Candidate, Mr. Charles Ayede, was murdered by hired assassins in an ambush along Lafia-Makurdi Road . At the time of the murder, he was in company of Mr. Adaa Maagbe, an ACN party chieftain in Benue State . This was two days after a known associate of Governor Suswan, Mr. Tahav Agerzua was caught filming the premises of the said Mr. Adaa Maagbe who was targeted in the assassination with the deceased. The intruder was promptly arrested and handed over to the Police, who released him shortly after without investigation or sanction.
7. It is noteworthy, that a day before this assassination, an associate of the deceased, had received calls warning of an impending attack on Prof. Ugbah and the top echelon of the ACN in Benue State .
8. During the attack and eventual assassination of Mr. Charles Ayede, Mr. Maagbe and another occupant of the vehicle conveying the trio managed to escape and alerted their boss, Prof. Steve Torkuma Ugbah who was still behind, of the gruesome incident. Professor Ugbah, in turn, reported the matter to the police authorities.
9. However, to the dismay of Prof. Ugbah who reported the case, the Police turned around and started arresting and detaining ACN leaders and supporters in Benue State , which is very reminiscent of what happened in 1996 when the police arrested NADECO Chieftains over the murder of Kudirat Abiola. History is repeating itself!
10. As we write, Prof. Ugbah, the survivor of the assassination attack, Mr. Adam Maagbe and the fourteen others mentioned above are presently facing criminal charges in a Magistrate Court in Makurdi.
11. Ironically, this violent violation of human rights is happening right under the nose of the visiting Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki- Moon.
We condemn in strong terms these attempts by the authorities to criminalize what is otherwise a matter that is nothing but strong political opposition to the misrule and misgovernance by Gabriel Suswan. If anything at all, those who should be facing charges in court are those who murdered Charles Ayede and others in cold blood. In the usual theatre of the absurd, the Police are presently dissipating their energies deliberately chasing shadows, instead of expending their energies to look for the killers of the ACN leaders and supporters.
Also unresolved are mountains of numerous murder cases across the country, including the senseless killing of innocent Youth Corp members, during the recent post election violence that the Inspector-General of Police has done nothing about, but prefers to enter into unholy alliance with Gabriel Suswan and his cohorts, to be chasing innocent people all over the place.
We are, once again, informing the world that we are this time forwarding another set of petitions to the Inspector-General of Police calling for the urgent investigation of various incidents concerning the killing and threat to lives of ACN leaders and supporters. Let us see what they will do.
We call on the Police to stop this wild goose chase and witch-hunting forthwith; we call on the Police to stop this shadow chasing; we call on the Police to immediately drop these bogus, flimsy and phoney charges against our leaders and supporters; we call on the Police to fish out the killers of Charles Ayede and charge them to court immediately.
Anything short of these will be stoking the embers of social unrest in Benue State, which end nobody can predict.
God bless you all.
Comrade Abba Yaro
Chairman, ACN Benue State