A group, Civil Society Group for Peace, Justice and Development, has submitted petitions to the National Human Rights Commission and the Inspector General of Police over alleged infringement of the rights of members of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the administration of Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State.
The group also took their petitions to the National Assembly as well as the British and American governments.
But the Gombe State government has denied any involvement in the arrest and subsequent detention of some members of the PDP in the state.
Coordinator of the group, Comrade Yusuf Yahuza, who spoke to journalists after submitting the petitions in Abuja, said they were worried over the recent arrest and prolonged detention of a PDP chieftain, Khalid Muazu Izala, allegedly by the Gombe State government over his ‘constructive criticisms’ of some policies and programmes of Governor Inuwa via his Facebook page.
The group alleged that the Governor Yahaya-led administration was using the instrument of the police and the judiciary to clampdown on opposition party members for exercising their rights of freedom of speech guaranteed by the constitution.
The group claimed that Izala was arrested and detained on the orders of a Gombe State magistrate court over the usage of his Facebook page to write alleged defamatory statements against one Garba Mohammed Mairago of the APC in Gombe State.
The group, which also cited other instances of arrests of opposition PDP members such as Adamu Balarabe Makera and Atiku Boza Boza, called on the National Human Rights Commission, the Inspector General of Police and the National Assembly to wade into the development to ensure that the freedom of opposition members in the state was not violated.
Reacting, the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Alhassan Ibrahim Kwami, told Daily Trust that neither Governor Yahaya nor the state government had a hand in the case.
Kwami said it was a member of the ruling APC, Garba Mohammed Mairago, who complained to the police that Khalid Mu’azu Izala had defamed him.
He said the police investigated the case and arraigned Izala before a competent court of law.
Kwami added that being a member of the ruling APC did not strip Mairago of his right to complain against a breach of law that affects him, stressing “Likewise Izala’s membership of the PDP would not stop the police from its right to arraign the ‘culprit’ just because he belongs to an opposition party.”