- Rejoinder to Hon. Declan Emelumba’s Statement on the Arrest of Nonso Nkwa
By Deji Ajare
It is with utmost concern that we address the statement released by Hon. Declan Emelumba, the Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, attempting to debunk the speculation surrounding the arrest of radio presenter and critic Mr. Chinonso Uba, popularly known as Nonso Nkwa. We find it essential to highlight the flaws and inconsistencies in the commissioner’s assertions, which inadvertently confirm the suspicions of the civil society that the arrest was indeed orchestrated by Governor Hope Uzodimma.
Firstly, the commissioner’s admonition that “nobody should teach the police how to go about their assignment” is not only faulty but also reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of how society should function. It is a well-known fact that the Nigerian Police, unfortunately, can be influenced by the highest bidder to carry out their bidding. This deeply-rooted systemic flaw is what leads the public to question the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Mr. Chinonso Uba. To dismiss such concerns without addressing them adequately not only undermines the essence of a government that upholds transparency and accountability but also exposes the incompetency of the Hon. Commissioner. This is more so as we are in the fifth day of Mr. Uba’s arrest without any formal charge and he remains incommunicado.
Furthermore, it is crucial to emphasize that as a journalist, Mr. Nonso Uba enjoys certain immunities and rights that safeguard his freedom of expression. Despite not wanting to engage in a direct confrontation about that on the media, it is imperative that we remind the Hon. Commissioner that journalists play a critical role in society by providing a platform for diverse voices and holding public officials accountable. Therefore, any arrest made in connection to his journalistic endeavors requires justifiable cause and adherence to due process. Due process should, in this case mean Mr. Uba could have been invited by the Police to answer questions and not abducted in gestapo style in the middle of the road, while abandoning his car.
To address this issue in an appropriate and fair manner, it is essential for the police to charge Mr. Nonso Uba to court and allow the judicial process to take its course without any external influence. This will not only uphold the principles of justice and fairness but also demonstrate the government’s commitment to the rule of law. The continued detention of Mr. Nonso Uba without clear charges or legal proceedings not only violates his rights but also contributes to an environment of fear and repression.
In conclusion, we strongly assert that the statement released by Hon. Declan Emelumba inadvertently confirms the suspicions of the civil society regarding Governor Hope Uzodimma’s alleged involvement in the arrest of Mr. Chinonso Uba. We call upon the Imo State government to uphold the principles of justice, transparency, and accountability by ensuring that Mr. Chinonso Uba is either charged to court or released immediately. Failure to do so will be seen as a direct attack on the fundamental rights and freedoms that underpin our democracy.
- Deji Ajare is a Lawyer and Executive Director of Sterlyn Law Center, Abuja