Power-drunk Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Edward Onoja, who has been at the centre of the inhuman treatment meted out to President Muhammadu Buhari-must-go protesters, Larry Emmanuel and Victor Udoka, has again reached out to the magistrate to ensure that he denies the two of them bail.
SaharaReporters learnt that Onoja is working through the Acting Chief Judge of the state, Richard Olorunfemi, who is also desperate to be confirmed as the substantive CJ, and the Chairman of the Kogi State branch of the Magistrates Association of Nigeria, Dr Tanko Muhammed, to deny the two protesters bail.
Emmanuel and Udoka have now spent over two months in illegal detention.
The case of the duo came up at the Magistrate on Wednesday and was adjourned till Friday, with the deputy governor already working behind the scene to make sure the two are denied bail or at worst, “given stringent bail conditions” which they would not be able to meet.
A source revealed, “He is pressurising Tanko to deny bail outright or give them bail under stringent conditions so they won’t be able to meet the bail conditions. The Magistrate is being put under pressure by Edward Onoja, using the acting Chief Judge, Olorunfemi who also badly desires to become the substantive CJ.
“The protesters have now spent 67 days in prison custody. The case is adjourned till Friday.”
A week ago, the two protesters began a hunger strike at the Kabba Prison as Nigerians knocked the state government for ignoring national and international voices calling for their release.
SaharaReporters had on June 2 exposed how the Kogi State Acting Chief Judge and the Chairman of the state branch of the Magistrates Association of Nigeria arranged a kangaroo trial for the two protesters.
It had been learnt that Olorunfemi and Muhammed were the tools Deputy Governor Onoja used to keep the protesters in detention for about two months.
Despite the suspended strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, the Kogi State power-drunk officials had during the strike secretly arraigned Emmanuel and Udoka and sentenced them to jail.
SaharaReporters had also on May 5 reported that Nigerians held a protest march in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to demand the release of two Buhari-must-go protesters.
The protesters, while condemning the continued detention of the duo, had demanded that the Nigerian Government must wade in and get the innocent citizens released.
They had carried protest banners, with inscriptions such as, “Yahaya Bello, Where is Emmanuel Larry?.”
The two protesters, who were arrested, molested by thugs sponsored by the Kogi State Government, and detained by the police, had also fallen critically sick.
SaharaReporters learnt that the two protesters had also been denied medical treatment.
“They are seriously ill and not getting treatment. The state government is hell-bent on keeping them, perhaps until they die in custody?” a source had stated.
A month ago, the global human rights organisation, Amnesty International, had demanded the unconditional release of the two Buhari-must-go protesters, adding that the protesters’ only crime was that they were “peacefully protesting against corruption and distributing posters that were perceived to be critical of the President.”
Amnesty International had said that the activists “were physically assaulted and tortured by unidentified men while peacefully protesting against corruption, and the poor human rights situation in Nigeria, and distributing posters that were perceived to be critical of the President.
“A few days later, they were turned over to the police and were subsequently transferred to the Nigeria Correctional Centre, located in Kogi State, in north-central Nigeria, where they are currently being held.
“The two activists are being detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to protest and expressing their views. They must be immediately and unconditionally released,” AI statement partly read.
SaharaReporters had reported that an irate mob flogged the two youths, filmed them, and brutalised them before they were later handed over to the police.