The Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders has condemned the attack on the supporters of the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, on Saturday by security agents, in Ebonyi State.
In a statement signed by its President-General, Chief Goodluck Ibem, the group demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of all the policemen involved in the dehumanisation of Obi supporters in the state.
He further demanded that compensation should be paid to all the affected youths in the state.
The statement read, “The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, the apex socio-political youth group in the South-East geopolitical zone, condemns in the strongest terms the unwarranted and unlawful attack with tear gas by men of the Nigeria Police Force on supporters of the Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, known as the Obidient Movement that gathered at the Enugu Road in Abakiliki, Ebonyi State for a peaceful march in support of their candidate.
“It is regrettable that Governor David Umahi elected as governor under a democratic administration by the people to govern them will resort to a military system of government where the people’s rights and privileges are trampled upon and the rule of law thrown away to the abyss.
“Why would the governor elected by the people turn around to order the police to brutalise, teargas and arrest law-abiding citizens who came out for a peaceful march in support of their preferred presidential candidate? This is the height of impunity against our hard earned democracy.
“Governor Umahi has displayed the military type of leadership that is characterised by the abuse of the people’s fundamental human rights in a democratic setting.
“We call on the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, to immediately arrest and prosecute those police officers involved in this show of shame.
“No known law empowers the police to arrest law-abiding citizens for exercising their rights to a peaceful assembly for their preferred candidate.
“Why is Governor Umahi fighting our democratic ethos in a democratic setting? This is the height of impunity and tyranny taken too far and we will not accept it.
“We demand the payment of compensation and an apology to those who were unlawfully arrested and teargassed for coming out today to exercise their legitimate rights and privilege.
“We will not accept any insult again from any political leader or political office holder against citizens upon which they derived their powers to govern them.
“Democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people. It is not government of one man, for one man, and by one man. It is high time our constitution and the rule of law must be respected by all and sundry. Enough said!”
One of the organisers, Steve Ugama, said aside from dispersing and tear-gassing the supporters, about five of his colleagues had been arrested by the police.
He said, “This is inhuman and undemocratic. We have gathered here this morning for our peaceful march, all of a sudden, the police came and started tear-gassing us and arresting our people.
“They said we can’t hold the march, because Governor David Umahi asked them to stop us, that we can’t hold it. About four of our colleagues have been arrested. We need help here.”
However, the supporters later regrouped in another part of the town and continued the March.
At the time if this report, they were seen along the Enugu-Abakaliki Highway, in the state capital, in their numbers forging ahead with the March.