Delta task force beats activist to coma

A human rights activist, Mr. Harrison Gwamnishi, says he narrowly escaped being killed by the task force of Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State for querying their illegal activities.

Gwamnishi, who is the Director-General of Behind Bars Rights Initiative, was reportedly ambushed along the Delta Broadcasting Station Road on Thursday in Asaba, the Delta State capital, and was allegedly dragged out of his car and reportedly beaten to a coma by members of the task force.

The victim’s phone with which he allegedly recorded the destruction of thousands of brick blocks at a block industry on the Benin-Asaba-Onitsha Expressway and his laptop were reportedly smashed on the tarred road.

Narrating his ordeal on Saturday to journalists, the activist lamented that the council chairman, Mr Uche Osadebe, approved of the action of the officials.

He said, “The 13 task force members pounced on me, tore my clothes, dragged out the other occupant in my car, snatched my laptop and beat me up. They said they acted on the order of the state governor.

“Even when I got to the GRA Police Station, the boys trailed me to the station and in front of the police, slapped me and tried to whisk me away, saying that the council chairman asked them to bring me.

“The police kept calm and refused to save me from the hands of the thugs. It took divine intervention for my life to be spared.

“When I called the commissioner for the environment, he said Governor Ifeanyi Okowa never asked anybody to destroy property.”

The activist noted that he had directed his lawyer to institute a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the council chairman.

The victim’s lawyer, Favour Ajuebor, said a petition against Osadebe had been submitted to the Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa, and a civil petition to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, including the state’s civil service commission and the House of Assembly.

“They attempted to kidnap my client to murder him. In our suit at the High Court, we emphasised chapter four of the constitution, as enshrined in the African Charter of Human Rights, because the action does not align with the smart agenda of prosperity of Governor Okowa,” the lawyer said.

The Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Chris Onogba, dissociated the state government from the action of the task force men and maintained that Okowa would never support destruction of property or jungle justice.

The council chairman, Osadebe, in a text message, said, “Nothing of such.”

(The Punch)