A High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has ordered the police to produce the detained Leader of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Chidi Lloyd, in court on Wednesday (today).
The presiding judge, Justice L. Nyorde, gave the directive on Tuesday after the police failed to arraign the Majority Leader in the court.
Lloyd had been in custody since last Tuesday after honouring police summons at the Force Headquarters in Abuja following a fracas at the state Assembly complex.
Justice Nyorde, who adjourned the matter to Wednesday (today) for the arraignment of Lloyd, said the lawmaker’s counsel served the police a hearing notice.
Lloyd’s lead counsel, Mr. Beluolisa Nwofor, (SAN), who informed the court of his client’s absence, added that the police had breached the state High Court Practice Directory of 2013 “that insists on the impartial and speedy adjudication of matters.”
Nwafor, however, appealed to the court to direct the police to arraign the accused so that he could take a plea.
He said, “The prosecution has a duty to ensure that the accused is in court. But they have breached the law. We fear for his health condition because he has been in detention for one week. I have not seen him for some time.”
Meanwhile, riot-policemen on Tuesday prevented members of civil society groups from holding a rally in the state.
The groups had gathered under the auspices of the Niger Delta Civil Societies Coalition to protest against the detention of Lloyd and the alleged involvement of the police Commissioner in the state, Mr. Joseph Mbu, in the crisis.
However, the riot-policemen had, as early as 7.30am, blocked the entrance to the Liberation Stadium, venue of the proposed rally.
The security operatives also stationed an Armoured Personnel Carrier at the front gate of the stadium as well as at the Isaac Boro Park in Port Harcourt.
The NDCSC Chairman, Mr. Anyakwee Nsirimovu, while frowning on the development, said the police were depriving them of their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and movement.
Nsirimovu said, “It was planned to be a peaceful rally. We had slated the Liberation Stadium to be our meeting venue, but on getting there this morning, the police, under the leadership of Joseph Mbu took over the stadium and did not allow us to get into the stadium to do what we wanted to do.
“It is in that regard that we relocated to this place (Stadium Road) to inform and share with all of you that this is a sad day for democracy, not just in Rivers State, but in Nigeria.”
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mrs. Angela Agabe, said the command had to stop the protest because contrary to the claim of the civil society groups, the action was not going to be peaceful.