Posted by News Express | 1 April 2014 | 4,276 times
In its desperation to re-arrest the Associate Editor of The Sun, Mr. Ebere Wabara, the Abia State Police Command yesterday obtained a court warrant against him despite being aware that he is hospitalised as a result of his ordeal in the hands of the command.
Wabara’s sin is that he wrote opinion articles considered to be in bad faith by Chief Theodore Ahamefule Orji, governor of his home state, Abia. For this, he was abducted on Friday morning from his Lagos residence, whisked away to Lagos and detained for 36 hours before being released following public outcry.
The warrant of arrest which the police yesterday obtained from the state’s magistrate’s court, in Umuahia also covers The Sun correspondent in Umuahia, Mr. Chuks Onuoha, who stood surety for him. Wabara, who was released on bail on Saturday, took ill and was admitted in a private hospital and could not honour the invitation to appear at the state police command headquarters yesterday.
In addition to the bench warrant, the police dragged Wabara to court yesterday, slamming him with a 10-count charge bordering on seditious publications against. In a suit number U/11/C/ 2014, between the Commissioner of Police and Wabara, the Associate Editor was alleged to have committed sedition with his articles in The Sun and other local media within the period, spanning January to March 2014.
Parts of the charge sheet read thus: “That you Ebere Wabara ‘m’ on the 19th day of February, 2014 at Umuahia in Umuahia North Magisterial District conspired with others, now at large, to commit offence to wit: seditious publication and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 517 of the Criminal Code cap 80 Vol. 3 Laws of Abia State of Nigeria 2005.
“That you Ebere Wabara ‘m’ and others now at large, on the 18th day of February 2014 in the aforesaid Magisterial District with intent to bring into hatred or contempt or excite disaffection against the person of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Abia State, Chief T.A Orji, did publish a seditious publication entitled: Buffoonery by Mezie Abia Organisation in Sun Newspaper of 18th February, 2014 page 22, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 50 (2)(a) punishable under Section 5(1)(c) Cap 80 Vol. 3 Criminal Code Cap 80 Vol. 3 Laws of Abia State of Nigeria 2005.
“That you, Ebere Wabara ‘m’ and others now at large, on the 30th day of January 2014 in the aforesaid Magisterial District conspired to commit offence to wit: seditious publication and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 517 of the Criminal Code Cap 80 Vol. 3 Laws of Abia State of Nigeria 2005.
“That you, Ebere Wabara ‘m’ and others now at large, on the 30th day of January 2014 in the aforesaid Magisterial District with intent to bring hatred or contempt or excite disaffection against the person of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Abia State, Chief T.A Orji did publish a seditious publication entitled “T.A Orji Self Delusion” in the City Reporter, a daily publication also circulating within Umuahia North Magisterial District and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 50 (2)(a) and punishable under Section 51(1)(c) of the Criminal Code Cap 80 Vol. 3 Laws of Abia State of Nigeria.”
Wabara was also accused of sedition for publishing articles such as; “Demystify a Master Strategy”,“Go to Akwa Ibom, Weep for Abia”, “T.A. Orji’s 7 years Demystification of Kalu,” among others.
Wabara was arraigned in absentia, as he could not honour the police invitation owing to his ill-health, occasioned by the trauma and the treatment he received from policemen, who had stormed his Lagos home at about 6.30am last Friday and abducted him. The case was adjourned till April 10, 2014.
The editor was first taken to Sholoki Police Station and later to Oyingbo Police Station, all in Lagos. He was left in the police car for hours, in handcuffs, under the excruciating sun.
Wabara was later taken to Umuahia still with his hands manacled, accompanied by 17 armed policemen. The policemen that abducted him in Lagos arrived Umuahia at 12 midnight, where the editor was clamped into detention without food or the privilege of brushing his teeth or having a change of clothes.
Wabara only ate Saturday afternoon, for the first time since he was abducted in Lagos on Friday. He was eventually released on bail at 10.15pm on Saturday, following intervention by the Inspector General of police, Mohammed Abubakar.
On his return to Lagos on Sunday, to take a few things he would need for his appointment at the Abia State police headquarters yesterday, Wabara fell ill and was hospitalised.
A letter from the doctor to the Managing Director of The Sun Publishing Limited granting him sick leave stated: “This is to certify that Mr. Ebere Wabara of The Sun Publishing Limited, No 2, Coscharis Street, Apapa is on admission and shall be unable to attend his duties for five days from March 31, 2014.”
Wabara’s lawyers have written to Abia State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Muhammed Abubakar, intimating him of his hospitalisation.
In a letter dated March 31, 2014, Chief D. O. Ogbode of Daniel Ogbodo & Associates, stated: “It will be recalled that our client was released on bail on Saturday at 10.15pm following his arrest by police from the state CID Umuahia. He was subsequently instructed to report to the commissioner of police on Monday, March 31st 2014.
“However, we wish to inform you that our client is currently on admission in the hospital due to shock of his arrest and the stress of the journey from Lagos to Umuahia by road, which took toll on his health. In view of the foregoing, we regret to inform you that our client will not be able to keep his appointment with the commissioner of police today (March 31, 2014). However, as responsible and law-abiding citizen of this country, he will honour his invitation to the police as soon as his condition improves.”
•Photo shows Ebere Wabara in his hospital bed.
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