Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) President, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, has kicked against police arraigning Senator Dino Melaye on a hospital stretcher, saying it represents a gross violation of human rights by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
OPC called for the immediate release of the Senator.
The Yoruba socio-cultural group vilified the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, over the incident and others that, OPC complained, were contributing to the government’s sordid human rights records.
Fasehun said: “Transporting Senator Melaye on a stretcher from Abuja for arraignment in Lokoja, Kogi State, the IGP is behaving like a Gestapo police chief in Adolf Hitler’s Germany. That action is unacceptable. It is man’s inhumanity against man. The Distinguished Senator’s arraignment in a stretcher is degrading, dehumanising and draconian, and it deserves universal condemnation by all right-thinking persons.”
The Senator reportedly suffered back injuries as he tried to escape tear-gas fumes in a police vehicle transporting him to Lokoja, following which he was admitted in an Abuja hospital, from where police brought him to court on a stretcher in the Federal capital and subsequently to Lokoja, Kogi State.
“Senator Dino Melaye must not die!” Fasehun warned. “Whoever is maltreating him can only hide under the cover of this regime, but that person will surely account for this gross misdeed not only to Nigerians but the international community.”
In a press statement issued in Lagos at the weekend, Fasehun said, it was clear that the police were mishandling and maltreating the Senator as part of an ongoing script designed to silence the opposition.
“They just want to cow everyone into silence. This is one more attempt to stifle the patriotic voices that have tried to hold the PMB regime accountable in the National Assembly, in the Judiciary, in the social and traditional media, in civil society and in opposition political parties,” OPC said. “It is a throwback to the era of Decree 4 of 1984, when as maximum dictator, General Muhammadu Buhari made it dangerous to exercise your Freedom of Speech.”
He recalled that the IGP similarly displayed this tendency in the Benue killings, where the police chief disobeyed the President’s specific directive to relocate to Makurdi, the capital, to stem the wave of attacks from Fulani herdsmen.
“Dino has been a critical voice and his current travails are reflective of the violent treatment that the Buhari regime reserves for perceived opponents,” Fasehun said, adding, “His maltreatment is a contemptuous and condemnable attempt to intimidate and cow the Legislature as was done to the Judiciary.”
Berating the regime’s human rights violations, Fasehun cited the continuing detention of Gambo Dasuki, Nigeria’s former Chief Security Officer, despite court rulings for his freedom, and the case of Sheikh El-Zakzaky, whose Shiite members have been killed by police during peaceful demonstrations.
OPC said that despite his theatrics outside the chambers and in the social media, Melaye by his contribution to House sessions reflects the best traditions of parliamentary democracy, with his bold, energetic, researched, cerebral and oratorical contributions to plenary.
OPC said, “Senator Melaye certainly does not deserve the inhuman treatment he is suffering at the hands of agents of the government. He should be released on self recognition to take care of his health.”
According to OPC, it was a pity that rather than take advantage of its clear majority in the National Assembly to improve the welfare of Nigerians, the Buhari regime had spent the last three years in needless grandstanding and unfruitful battles with potential partners in progress.