By Ikechukwu Okafoardi
Senate yesterday mandated its joint Committees on Police Affairs, and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to investigate the continued detention of an activist, Deji Adeyanju, by the police.
Ruling on a motion moved under urgent matters of national importance by Senator Dino Melaye (PDP Kogi West) on the police action, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki gave the Committees one week to complete the assignment and report back to the plenary.
Presenting the motion moved via Point of Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate standing rules, Senator Melaye said the activist had been arraigned twice for alleged human rights protest by the police and re-arrested him after being released by the court.
He said: “One of my constituents named Umar Adeyonju Deji, was invited by the police, having been arrested twice for public protest.
“Deji is a pro-democracy activist. He has been arrested twice by the Nigerian police and released on bail for organising protests in the defence of human rights and democracy.
“This social activist was rearrested last Thursday on the orders of the Inspector General of Police over a matter that took place in Kano in 2018, that is 18 years ago.
“This matter has been decided by a competent court of law in the Kano division of the High Court.
“The judgment has been given; Deji and two others have been discharged and acquitted by the court”.
Senator Melaye said Nigeria was a democracy where people should not be stopped from exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association as guaranteed by the Constitution.
He stated that an attempt by a security agency to abridge those rights was not acceptable to him, the Constitution and should not be acceptable to the Senate.
The lawmaker alleged that the police had concluded arrangement to take Deji back to Kano for retrial over a matter already decided by the court.
He urged the Senate to rise in defence of the activist and every other Nigerian whose rights are being trampled upon.
To this end, he called for the constitution of a special committee to investigate the matter.
Senator Emmanuel Paulker, PDP-Bayelsa Central, who seconded the motion, said the Senate should ensure appropriate action was taken when the committee submit its report.
Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, said there was no need for a special committee since the Committees on Judiciary and Police Affairs could handle the matter.
After the lawmakers approved the motion through a voice vote, Saraki gave the committees one week to report back to the Senate.
He said: “In matters like this, the Senate should be seen as defending democracy and protecting the rights of individuals.
“This young man has been arrested and rearrested over a case of over 18 years ago. It is just an example of harassment and we cannot be seen tolerating or accepting that.
“This is a country that is seen as a leader in the continent, and we must show that democracy is working”.