Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, caucus in the House of Representatives is set to meet with its counterpart in the Senate this week over the arrest and continued detention of its spokesperson, Chief Olisah Metuh, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Leader of the caucus in the lower chamber, Hon. Leo Ogor over the weekend said the meeting was to ascertain the next line of action following the expiration of the 48 hours ultimatum issued to the anti graft agency over what it described as “unlawful detention” of Metuh.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that last week Tuesday, the caucus briefed the media at the National Assembly and described the arrest and continued detention of its spokesperson as a display of authoritarian and dictatorial tendencies by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
Ogor had expressed displeasure that the continued incarceration of the opposition party mouthpiece was a witch-hunt and politically motivated.
He stated that the offence allegedly committed by the party chieftain was not a treasonable felony and therefore should be granted bail in recognition of his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
According to him, “To avoid dictatorship and authoritarianism, it is our collective responsibility to speak against this unfortunate situation. We insist that he should be taken to a competent court of jurisdiction in the next 48 hours.”
Speaking on the expiration of the ultimatum, Ogor expressed disappointment on the high handedness of the anti graft agency, describing it as “tyrannical and total usurpation of the powers of the courts to adjudicate and punish offenders.”
According to him, “We are watching the leadership of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, expecting them to be law abiding citizens of our great nation; expecting them to be people who have respect for the constitution and the rule of law. But as far as we can see, nothing of that nature has taken place, so the PDP caucus of the House of Representatives vis-avis that of the Senate will be meeting to discuss this subject matter and forge the next line of action.”
The caucus leader frowned at the manner Buhari’s government was going after members of the opposition PDP, particularly its spokesman for speaking against the APC administration.
He observed that no APC member was arrested or detained unlawfully when the party was in power despite the tissue of lies and propaganda peddled against it by then APC spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“It is so unfortunate that during our regime, upon all the blatant lies that Lai Mohammed raised against our party, he was never arrested due to freedom of opinion. Unfortunately, the voice of the PDP who is our publicity secretary today has been put in limbo. Just for nothing but the fact that he has been there speaking for the opposition.
“We will continue to explore all democratic principles and ethics to fight for our rights and that of the citizens of this country. Like I said previously, we will not in any way encourage corruption. But the laws of our land are there to be obeyed so that if anybody is tried by it and proven guilty by a competent court of jurisdiction, nobody, I repeat, nobody can usurp the powers of the court, no matter how highly placed he or she is.
“The scenario or a situation where somebody is being usurped or rather deprived of his fundamental rights is totally unacceptable, it offends the spirit of our constitution, it violates the fundamental rights clearly stipulated under our constitution, it negates the rule of law and purpose of all democratic principles.
“We will explore the provisions of our laws detail by detail until the necessary steps are taken or the nation will hear from us.
“First and foremost, I think we need to get one thing clear. Olisa Metuh did not deny the fact that he collected money. He said he collected money because he was sent on an errand and somebody is asking him to return what he was given, he didn’t collect money from the National Security Adviser like they said. And if somebody is not satisfied, I think the right thing to do is that when you ask him and he said; no I was asked to do a specific assignment with this fund. And if you are not satisfied with his explanations, you take him to court.
“However, what this means is that the EFCC lacks the competence to pronounce Olisa Metuh guilty. So if they are not satisfied with his explanation, what they need to do is take him to a competent court of jurisdiction.
“One thing we need to understand in this country is that the EFCC is an institution. The concept of the ideology of individualising this institution is military. It is a totally military concept and we must avoid it. The law is very clear on this and we must be ruled by the provisions of the law. Does the law give them the powers to detain somebody if the man said no?
“Where do they want him to recover the money from? If you are not satisfied with his explanations, charge him to court. And if you charge him to court and the court says, ‘look, you must refund the money’ and when he cannot refund it, then the court would sentence him to imprisonment. But for them to just detain and deny him of his freedom is injurious to our democratic system.
“You are indirectly introducing dictatorship or some kind of authoritarianism. This is what we must all fight against and say no to. Two wrongs do not make a right. Even if the man collected money and said he was sent on an errand, you are also at the end of the day committing an offence by holding him without sending him to an appropriate court which under the provision of Section 6 of the constitution has the right to ask that he be detained or tried.
“So they are usurping the powers of the court. These are the things we are against and we are saying please, let there be respect for the rule of law,” Ogor asserted.
It would be recalled that Metuh, who is the national publicity secretary of the PDP, was arrested and held in detention by the EFCC on January 5, 2016, for allegedly receiving N400 million from the office of former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, funds meant for the purchase of arms and ammunitions for the military.

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