A human rights activist, Emperor Gabriel Ogbonna, has been arrested and remanded in prison custody over an alleged false publication against Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu.
Over 20 policemen in company with Chief of Staff to the governor, Tony Agbazuere, and Commissioner of Police, Ene Okon, were said to have stormed Ogbonna’s chambers and arrested him at about 8:30am on March 24 despite the directive of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, against making frivolous arrests.
A source disclosed that Ogbonna, whose sin was calling on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe a former governor of the state, Theodore Orji, and his wife for allegedly mismanaging state funds, was quickly taken to Umuahia where he was arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court for alleged cybercrime and remanded at the Correctional Service Centre in Umuahia where he has been in the last seven days without trial.
The charge sheet obtained by SaharaReporters showed that the activist was charged with conspiracy and cyber terrorism on March 26.
It read in part, “That Emperor Gabriel Ogbonna ‘M’ and others now at large within the 18th-19th day of March, 2020, at 118 Market Road, Aba in the Aba North Magisterial District, knowingly and intentionally published false and threat message on the Internet that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu swore on oath before the ancient Harashima (A Hindu god) to abide absolutely by conditions presented by his predecessor in office and subvert the people of Abia State, that he also signed a document between the former governor of Abia State, Senator T. A. Orji, his son, Hon. Chinedum Orji, that the spirits they worship should deal with him if he fails in his undertaking, a publication you know to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, insult, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred and ill-will against Okezie Ikpeazu, contrary to Section 27(1) (a) and 18(1)of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition Prevention ETC) Act, 2015.”
Ogbonna’s lawyer had filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Umuahia, seeking justice for him amid the risk of Coronavirus pandemic to his health and the injury he sustained when he was shot by assailants suspected to be government agents some years ago.
But the lockdown imposed by the Abia State government prevented the court from sitting.
The source explained, “They mischievously did this in order to illegally detain him for more than 48 hours.
“Barr Agbazuere, who is leading a syndicate for Governor Okezie, Senator T A Orji and his son Ikuku, who is the Speaker, made sure that Emperor did not get justice and was thrown into Afara Prison, Umuahia, for seven days without charges.
“Until today (April 4), he has not been charged and is still languishing in prison. The arrest by the Commissioner of Police, Abia State, was contrary to the directive of the IGP that frivolous arrest should not be made. Emperor did not resist arrest but stated that he should have been invited to the state if there was any need for it.
“His sin is calling the EFCC to investigate the former governor and his wife on the news that went viral about how they siphoned and mismanaged Abia State fund.
“His (Ogbonna) group also organised protests in Abuja and Umuahia where government sent agents to beat up the protesters and it ended bloody.
“Some years ago, Emperor sustained gunshot injury by suspected government agents which has made him to limp while walking.
“His passion for good governance in Abia State has kept him going. The NBA, Aba branch, has come up with a resolution to write about the illegal detention in national newspapers and report the activities of the Chief of Staff to Ikpeazu to the umbrella body in Abuja.
“Right now, Emperor is languishing in prison for speaking up for the people of Abia.”