Date Published: 04/12/10
Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO
Rivers State branch. 10, Ibaa Street, D/Line, Port Harcourt. 234-083-3390311
April 10, 2010
Enough of the attacks on Activists
The Civil Liberties Organisation, Rivers State branch is worried over the incessant attacks on human rights activists in Port Harcourt by Policemen attached to the Rivers State Police Command. We consider the attacks as calculated attempts to stifle voices of dissent in the state, especially as there is no political opposition which has left the state in a one-party state. Activists have become targets for police brutalities as a result of their clamour for the respect of the rights of the citizenry by the authorities in the state. The most recent attack was on Monday, April 5, 2010 when 3 activists, namely Asume Isaac Osuoka, Celestine Akpobari and Ken Henshaw were beaten up by a team of Policemen from Olu Obasanjo Police station before they were thrown into detention without any charge. The three activists, all staff of Social Action, a Non Governmental Organisation based in Portharcourt, were trailed from their Oromineke Lay Out office in D-Line, Portharcourt at about 9pm by over 6 heavily armed Policemen operating in a white hilux Police van. They were double crossed at Garrison junction, dragged out of their vehicle and beaten mercilessly. The Policemen used their gun butts and gun nozzles, boots, batons and horsewhips to unleash mayhem on the law abiding citizens. Celestine Akpobari sustained serious injuries and was later hospitalised on the following day, Wednesday, April 6 in a private hospital in Port Harcourt.
After the brutalities, the Policemen bundled them into their hilux van and took them to the Olu Obasanjo Police Station where they were detained until about 12 midnight when they were released. They were not told the offense they committed for which they were arrested, beaten up, humiliated and detained. But we suspect that the action of the Police may not be unconnected with the campaigns of the activists against forced evictions of residents of Waterfront by the government of Rivers State headed by Mr Rotimi Amaechi, as well as other campaigns against mis-governance in the State. They had received several threats from agents of the state prior to the attack.
Before the April 5 attack on the three activists, another activist, Kentebe Ebiaridor, a staff of Environmental Rights Action, ERA and member of the CLO, was manhandled by Policemen at Agip estate, Rumueme, Portharcourt on Friday, April 2, 2010 at about 1am. He was returning from work when he was accosted by the battle ready Policemen who beat him up, bundled him into their vehicle and into the Rumuokpakani Police Station’s cell at Ada George road, Port Harcourt. Kentebe who refused to pull off his clothes and enter the cell as ordered by the Policemen, was brutalised and jerked up by several Policemen on duty and thrown into the cell. He was later released at about 9am following the intervention of the CLO.
We can no longer continue to fold hands and watch innocent persons being subjected to Police brutalities in a society where criminals operate with impunity. The attacks and illegal detentions are flagrant violations of the rights of the people, reminiscent to the evil days of the military. We condemn them and demand that the officers involved should be fished out and brought to book accordingly.
We also demand that the Policemen should be called to order as their mode of operations have continued to dent the already dented image of the Police Institution.
Residents of the country have inviolable rights to the freedom of movement as well as the right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest, torture and degrading treatments and the Police should not continue to trample on these rights.