Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Monday, asked the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Umo Eno and his cronies to stop the political persecution of the candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) in the just-concluded governorship election in the state, Senator Bassey Albert.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, asked that the state administration respects pluralism of political opinions and the rights of political opponents to challenge the outcome of an election at the Petitions Tribunal without being harassed, victimized and intimidated by state forces and security agents allegedly working to ingratiate themselves to the new powers that be in Akwa Ibom State.
The group cautioned Gov Eno to call his people and party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to order and immediately halt the visible threat to the life of Senator Albert because he has the courage to challenge Gov Eno’s declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the winner of the poll. HURIWA acknowledges that although there is no empirical evidence linking the person of the Akwa Ibom State governor His Excellency Mr. Umo Eno to this latest aggression against the YPP governorship candidate and the main challenger of the governor’s victory in the 2023 governorship race, but as the Chief Security Officer of Akwa Ibom State, the bulk of the responsibility and legal obligations to protect citizens of his dear state is on his desk. The governor must create the enabling environment for political pluralism to thrive in Akwa Ibom State.
HURIWA warned that the governor and his party would be held responsible if anything untoward happens to Senator Albert because the governor is the chief security officer of Akwa Ibom state while at the same time called on the new Inspector General of Police to rein in on his men in Akwa Ibom and stop them from being used allehedly by the Akwa Ibom state government as tool of oppression against petitioners at the governorship tribunal.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “There are video evidence of the oppressive regime ongoing in Akwa Ibom state under the watch of Governor Umo Eno. Just on June 20, 2023, Senator Albert’s witness was harassed by alleged state-sponsored thugs and security agents at the Tribunal at the State Judiciary Complex, Uyo, meters from the Government House and almost opposite a police division.
“It is ironical that the police stormed the venue and wanted to arrest Senator Albert’s witness against the governor. This is shameful and the Nigeria Police Force should be most ashamed.
“The YPP candidate, as part of his petitions at the tribunal, tendered the academic credentials of the PDP candidate from the University of Uyo to advance his allegation that he (Eno) was kicked out of the university over alleged fake school certificates but gunshots and heavy armed presence were used by the governor to intimidate the witness.
“This is broad day oppression in a democratic setting and this kind of tyrannical behaviour has no place in our civil world. The YPP has already written a petition to the Department of State Services on the matter and the apparent threat to the life of Senator Albert.
“Senator Albert is a victim of political persecution by the PDP-led Akwa Ibom State Government. His contrived prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over vehicles he was given which is deemed as money laundering is a frame up allegation contrived by the EFCC office in Uyo controlled by the office of the governor.
“Approaching the court to demand his sacking because he dumped the PDP for the YPP when the former shunned democracy and hijacked the governorship ticket for the highest bidder and instal his stooge in the person of Eno is also nothing but political witchhunt by the PDP.
“We call for an end to this political persecution for whatever reason and ask that the state administration respects pluralism of political opinions. Also, part of the persecution is the spreading of fake news about the Appeal Court’s verdict in which journalists allegedly working for Akwa Ibom governor misreported that the court ordered his re-arrest when the contrary is the case as can be seen from the enrolled order of the Court of Appeal.
“The PDP in Akwa Ibom state has used the judiciary, the police and all other state instrument to persecute Senator Albert and this must stop forthwith.”