Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, reaffirmed his order to security agencies in the country to provide “maximum security” to the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), in the forthcoming governorship election in Kogi State, Mr Murtala Ajaka.
Justice Ekwo reaffirmed the order at the commencement of hearing in the suit instituted by Ajaka against the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello and others.
The judge warned that since all the parties have submitted themselves before the court, they should not take steps to overreach themselves or jeopardise the trial at the court.
Justice Ekwo subsequently adjourned hearing to September 21.
Ajaka had dragged Kogi governor to court over alleged threat to his life and members of his family, as well as plans to arrest and prosecute him over alleged complicity in terrorism activities.
Before commencement of trial he had on July 11, brought an ex-parte application praying the court to restrain the security agencies from arresting, inviting, detaining or threatening the applicant’s life and property pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
The affected security agencies which include the Defence headquarters, army, navy, DSS and police, by the order, are to guarantee the safety of the SDP candidate, pending the hearing of a suit filed before the court.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/952/2023, are the the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, the Inspector General (IG) of Police, Commissioner of Police (Kogi State), DSS, Director General of DSS, Director DSS (Kogi State) Commandant General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Naval Staff as 1th to 11th respondents respectively.
Justice Ekwo after reading the affidavit Ajaka deposed to in support of the motion, as well as the submissions of his lawyer, Mr. S. E. Aruwa, SAN, (with Divine J. Davies and A. I. Idris) held that the request of the applicant was meritorious and accordingly granted it as prayed.
“An Order is hereby made restraining the respondents, their agents, servants and anybody acting through or under them from arresting, inviting, detaining or threatening the applicant’s life and property pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
“An Order is hereby made compelling the 2nd – 11th respondents to immediately provide maximum security to the applicant in Abuja FCT, Kogi State and elsewhere in Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit”, the judge ruled.
Before adjourning to July 21 for hearing, the court ordered the applicant to serve the respondents with all the processes in this suit together with the Order of Court.
Ajaka, had earlier petitioned the IG, Mr Olukayode Egbetokun over alleged threat to his life as well as members of his family by the Kogi State governor.
In the petition dated July 12 and written on his behalf by his lawyer, Chief Femi Falana, SAN, the SDP candidate accused Bello of “using his executive powers” to “lunched series of violent attacks” on him and his political party and his teeming supporters.
According to Falana, “Our client’s brief is that since he was nominated by his party as its candidate for the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi State, the State Governor, ALHAJI YAHAYA BELLO has taken it upon himself to ensure that our client, his political party and supporters would not enjoy peace in Kogi State or be allowed to exercise their fundamental rights of peaceful assembly and association”.
While describing Bello’s action as illegal and unlawful, Falana stated that his client has become a victim of unwarranted harassment, intimidation and cheap blackmail.
Falana had in the petition called on the Police to intervene and accord Ajaka the constitutional protection of his right to vote and be voted for.
“In view of the foregoing, we urge you to cause an investigation into the allegations of threat to the life of our client, attacks on him and his clients, trumped up charges of terrorism and treasonable felony.
“We further demand that you direct the immediate demobilization of all armed thugs and killer squads set up by the State Government to intimidate the perceived political opponents of Governor Bello.
“Meanwhile, you may wish to direct the Commissioner of Police Kogi State to caution his men and officers from allowing themselves to be used as tools for political oppression of opposition political parties in the state and in particular our client and his supporters”, Falana added.