By Amos Aar
THE Benue State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its Legal Adviser, Barr Clement Mue, have decried the detention of the party’s social media activist, Mr Paul Gyenger, by the Benue State Police Command beyond 24 hours following a petition by Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia.
Gyenger was reported to have been arrested last Friday, August 25, 2023 on alleged orders of the governor who reportedly accused him of character defamation.
Gyenger alleged on a Facebook post that Governor Alia had diverted the sum of N2 billion, being part of subsidy palliative sent to Benue State by the federal government.
National Record searched Paul Gyenger’s Facebook timeline and found the post which reads: “Two Billion Naira of the Five Billion naira was disbursed to state governors last week. Other governors including those of Borno and Kaduna confirmed the alert. However, it is alleged that Gov. Alia diverted the funds meant for Benue State to finish building his N7 Billion house in Guzape, Abuja”.
Gyenger made the allegation on his Facebook wall on August 18, 2023, four days before Governor Alia announced the receipt of the N2 billion to Benue people on August 22 when he flagged off the distribution of federal government assisted relief materials for 2022 flood victims in the state.
In a statement on Saturday, PDP state publicity secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, criticised Alia for allegedly instructing the police to prolong Gyenger’s detention unlawfully.
“Mr Gyenger was picked up in Makurdi and is being detained by the police following a petition by Governor Hyacinth Alia, claiming he is defamed by a social media post the arrested PDP activist made regarding the subsidy removal palliatives sent to the state by the federal government.
“Earlier today, Benue PDP State Legal Adviser, Barr Clement T. Mue and State Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, who were at the Police State Command to demand bail for the detained party activist, were denied access to him for hours and were only able to see him after a direct order from the Commissioner of Police.
“But demand for his bail was denied by the Investigation and Prosecution Officer (IPO) who claimed that could only happen after a meeting between Governor Alia’s team of lawyers and Mr Gyenger’s lawyers scheduled for midday, but which the governor’s lawyers failed to turn up for.
“Our great party believes this is a ploy by Governor Alia to have Mr Gyenger kept in Police detention without trial longer than permitted under law, and this is in violation of his fundamental rights which will be challenged in court”, the statement reads in part.
TheWill Newspaper also quoted Barrister Mue to have said in an interview with journalists on Friday that “as a lawyer, I have to come back and wait till Monday to file a case. To my knowledge, a case of defamation is civil in nature. If my client is in police custody from Friday to Monday, it would have been more than 72 hours, which is against the law of the land.”