Ugolor’s Arrest (An Article by Nowinta Igbotako)

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UGOLOR’S ARREST

The Nigeria Police Force is one of the most satanic, corrupt, unyielding and inefficiently
organized in the world, where the police stations have been turned into ‘banks’, and the various inspectors of police are now bankers in uniform… Many will remember the Lawrence Anini saga versus the police in 1987. Anini tormented the whole nation for many months before his gang, one of them a police Assistant Superintendent (Iyamu) was captured, tried and sentenced to death. There are still many Iyamus in the service today.

-Quoted in WHERE WE ARE (Page 99).

Innocent Edemhanria, Programme/Policy Officer, of African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), in a press statement described how, Rev. David Ugolor, the Executive Director of African Network for Environment and Economic Justice was arrested on July 27, 2012 as follows:

“At about 2.05 pm on Friday heavily armed security operatives some wearing Federal SARS jacket, others plain clothes, swooped on our office and took away our Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor. The security operatives which numbered over ten had picked him up from somewhere in town and brought him to the office. They had ransacked his private home and office and took away some items. Staff of the office had their cell phones taken away from them and switched off for as long as the security men held them hostage which lasted for about three hours. They later returned the phones at about 4.35 pm before vacating the office premises. A staff of Centre for Social Justice, Mr. Kingsley Nnajiaka was at ANEEJ secretariat then and was held hostage for the same period.”

The news of the arrest of Rev. David Ugolor came to me as a rude shock. Precisely at about 9.46 am on Sunday, a fellow Comrade called me and said I should look for the Nation Newspapers of that day; that one of the suspected killers of Olaitan Oyerinde, (the slain Principal Private Secretary to the Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole) has named David Ugolor as the sponsor of the dastardly act. As I was discussing with the Comrade that called me that fateful Sunday, on phone, the question that came to my mind immediately was that: “I hope this guy is not lying against Rev. David Ugolor, given the relationship, closeness and everything that existed between Ugolor and Comrade Olaitan?” As soon as I finished the conversation with the Comrade that called, I was devastated. I said to myself: “What is this world becoming, why on earth will David liquidate Olaitan. What am I hearing. What is happening? What is this?”

Immediately, I called Leo Atakpu, the Deputy Executive Director of African Network for Environment and Economic Justice. Leo confirmed the sad development. I called Innocent Edemhanria, the Programme Policy Officer of ANEEJ, he too was short of words while confirming the arrest of David Ugolor by the police. As a veteran pro-democracy and human rights activist, I have known and associated with David Ugolor for more than fifteen years now. I was chairman, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Edo State between 1995 and 1999. Close to ten years now, I have been serving as a member, Board of Directors of African Network for Environment and Economic Justice.

As a founder of ANEEJ, and its Executive Director, Rev. Ugolor has entrenched a non-violent approach to development in our development policy document and naturally and practically abhors violence in any form and shape. It is also crucial for the Nigerian public to know that Rev. David Ugolor is a life saver, not a taker of life as his natural penchant for poverty eradication, enlarging the voice of the voiceless, assisting the poor and needy is unparalleled in his almost twenty five years of effective and result oriented activism.

On Monday, 30th of July, 2012, I hurriedly made my way to the Secretariat of ANEEJ, where Comrades of all shades and colours trooped in to solidarise with the ANEEJ family over the arrest of Rev. David Ugolor. It was while we were brainstorming on how to effectively respond to the ugly situation at hand that, I noticed the Draft Communiqué of the one day round table conference on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) 2012, currently before the National Assembly. The round table was organized by ANEEJ on Thursday July 19, 2012, at the Rock View Hotel, Wuse 2, Abuja.

It was attended by 53 representatives of Civil Society Organizations drawn from NGOs, CBOs, Trade Union Congress, Nigeria Labour Congress, Academic, individual Nigerians and Oil communities. The roundtable was designed to provide a platform for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Labour Movement, Media Rights Group, Women’s Group to get a de-briefing from the CSO – Labour representative on the Task Force on PIB and analyse the out come of the committee’s work and proffer strategies to get the National Assembly to pass the Bill into Law.

Readers will agree with me that the PIB if eventually passed by the National Assembly and signed into law will go a long way in sanitizing the Oil and Gas sector in Nigeria, which has been mindless vandalized by mind blowing corruption and ineptitude. The ANEEJ organized roundtable eventually took some vital resolutions which includes these two points: “Call on the National Assembly to publish a time table for the speedy passage of the 2012 PIB so that Nigerians could participate actively in a transparent process which gives sufficient time for public hearings.

(ii)Urge the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources to mass produce the hard copies of the Bill for access by members of the public and disseminate the PIB 2012 through the website as well as that of the NNPC, NEITI and all other relevant agencies of government.”

It is incredible to believe that a civil society activist of the calibre of Rev. David Ugolor, that has taken ANEEJ to the highest levels nationally and internationally in the campaigns for absolute transparency and accountability in the extractive industries, and on issues relating to good governance in our clime would now come so low to arrange the brutal assassination of his bosom friend? I do not believe it.

According to Innocent Edemharia “The suspect who is accusing David Ugolor is of a Northern Nigeria origin and is completely unknown to Rev. David Ugolor, colleagues and friends… But we suspect strongly that somebody high up somewhere is framing up our Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor over the murder of the personal aide to the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.”

As a law abiding citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and as a man that believes in due process and transparency in criminal and judicial process, I add my voice that the Ugolor’s arrest must be allowed to undergo transparency; nothing should be hidden; the police should do a thorough job. Nobody should obstruct police investigation. As the police is doing their job, the health condition of Rev. Ugolor should not be compromised; he should be granted bail to a reliable surety.

Nowinta Igbotako, wrote WHERE WE ARE.

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