Falana, PDP Fault IGP Declaration of Babangida Media Aide, Afegbua, Wanted

Controversy has continued to trial the invitation of Kassim Afegbua, a media aide to Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd) over the statement purportedly issued on behalf of the former President.
Afegbua had over the weekend signed and issued a statement purportedly made by Babangida, which he advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to run for a second term in 2019. But hours later another one was issued personally signed by the former military general in which he denied the first one.
The matter however took a different tune when the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, declared Afegbua wanted for alleged defamation of character and incitement of the public against the government.
However, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has criticised the planned arrest and prosecution of Afegbua
In a statement Tuesday, Falana said by declaring Afegbua wanted when he had not failed to honour the invitation of the police, the IGP has overreached himself.
“It is undoubtedly that it is the Inspector General of police who has defamed Afegbua by portraying him as a fugitive from the law,” said Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
“Therefore, (Ibrahim) Idris is advised to withdraw the offensive declaration without any further delay.
“Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the issuance of the public statement by Afegbua and the denial by General Babangida it ought to be pointed out that no criminal offence known to law has been committed to warrant the action of the Inspector General of Police,” said Falana
“More so, that both General Babangida and President Buhari have not complained that the controversial press statement has defamed them.
“In fact, if the statement is considered defamatory whoever is injured would have to institute a civil suit where he will be required to put his own reputation in issue.
“However, the Inspector-General of Police should be advised not to popularise the discredited views of both Generals Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida who failed woefully to institutionalise democracy, rule of law, human rights, self reliance and probity during the 20 years that both of them had ruled the country.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party described the move by police to declare Afegbua wanted, over the press statement as an attempt to muzzle free speech and constitutional rights to dissent of citizens.
The party in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Olgbodiyan, on Tuesday cautioned the police and other security agencies not to allow themselves to be used by “the sinking All Progressives Congress as instruments of persecution against Nigerians perceived to be unsupportive of the unpopular re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The PDP however said the recent ”distasteful events including unwarranted harassment of perceived opponents of the APC, supposed and actual presidential hopefuls as well as opposition members, show that the APC has now gone into jittery mode.”
The party described the trend as a dangerous threat to the nation’s democracy.
“We now have a terrifying situation where people are harassed for daring to aspire for certain elective offices or even express opinion regarding governance in the country. Nigerians and the international community have seen that almost all those who have openly expressed, or perceived to be nursing ambition for certain offices, including the presidency, are now facing one trumped-up charge or the other, ostensibly meant to cow and discredit them.
“The point is that the APC has refused to wake up to the reality of the fact that Nigerians have already reached a consensus rejecting them and that no amount of threats, intimidation and persecution with state apparatus of power can subjugate or make them change that determined resolve to vote out APC and its candidates come 2019,” the opposition party said.
“The fact that the APC is leaving office in 2019 has become inevitable and no one should be part of their desperation to completely ruin our nation before their exit. The party therefore calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to caution the APC.”

Author: News Editor

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