The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State yesterday said the party will embark on a protest over the “unwarranted arrest” of its members.The State Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, said this at a campaign rally held at Ogbeson Quarters, near Benin.
Orbih was speaking against the backdrop of the recent incident in Okada, Ovia North-East Local Government Area, where 13 PDP youths were allegedly arrested on “trumped up charges”.
He said that two weeks ago, youths from Egbeta, a rural community near Okada, were arraigned before a court by the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Edo State, Mr. Henry Idahagbon, for alleged “threat to public peace and assaulting a civil commissioner.”
“This week is the last we would allow the Edo state attorney-general to press charges against our members,” Orbih said.
“If it happens again, we would take to the streets to protest the arrest of PDP members by the APC-led government”, he added.
Meanwhile, a Benin-based legal practitioner Mr. Olayiwola Afolabi, has asked the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmod Mohammed and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to investigate the alleged unprofessional conduct of the commissioner.
He wondered why the Idahagbon decided to personally prefer charges against his clients, when the case was already before a court of competent jurisdiction.
In the petition which was copied to the Director General, National Human Rights Commission, Afolabi insisted that the Edo State Attorney General was not the Commissioner of Police that investigated the case.
He added that the court had not directed the Police to handover the case file to the Office of the Attorney General of Edo State.
He stated that his clients were arrested by the Police in Okada and that after statements were taken from them, they were transferred to Benin and were charged to court for offences which bordered on conspiracy, assault, unlawful damage and manner likely to cause breach of public peace, which are bailable.
Afolabi said that they were surprised, that Mr. Idahagbon through a state counsel, preferred new charges of conspiracy, murder, prompting inter communal war and warlike undertaking against members of Egbeta community, which were not in tandem with the facts before the court, just to enable the court decline jurisdiction in the matter.
He insisted that the essence of the Attorney General’s involvement was to ensure that the accused persons were remanded in prison custody.
He said, “The office of the Attorney General of Edo State is a public office and not the private pocket of the AG as same is governed by statute and his power is spelt out in the constitution and in exercising the power, Section 211(3) of the 1999 Constitution comes in and the sections states as follows:
“In exercising his power under this section, the Attorney General of a state shall have regard to the public interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.”