Thursday, 7 December 2017

I Was Handcuff To A Chair And Taken To Abuja - BudgIT Staff

Moses Motoni, a staff member of civic tech organisation, BudgIT, on Wednesday revealed the manner in which he was driven to Abuja by the police. He said upon his arrest under false pretense by the Police in Kaduna, he was driven down to Abuja with his legs chained while his hands were handcuffed to a chair for the two and a half hour journey.

Motoni, in a chat with journalists about his ordeal, said the police did not give specifics about his crime, simply saying his arrest was due to reports he was “inciting the populace and trying to impeach the Emir of Bida". He stated that he was apprehended in Kaduna and brought to Abuja for holding a town hall meeting in Bida, Niger State, on budget tracking.

The budgIT staff MEMBER’S arrest caused an uproar on social media, as it came on the heels of the call for the end of the Special Anti–Robbery Squad. The whole saga was triggered when Motoni, as is his job, went to Niger state to sensitise the residents of the Niger South senatorial district on the projects awarded to their constituency in the 2017 budget,

The sensitisation programme, according to him, is to inform them and also educate them on how to engage their representatives in order to promote transparency in the process and ensure projects are carried out to completion. Motoni said the projects he was talking about were “the installation of transformers and electrification of Nowanya-Tawadzuru, Tiffin Emitswachi Tawadzuru and Tako communities in the Gbako Local Government Area, Niger South Senatorial District, Niger State” as stated in the 2017 Appropriation Act.

He was, however, arrested on Monday by police officers alleged to have presented themselves as staff members of DHL Nigeria at Markafi Market, Kaduna. He said, “I was arrested in Kaduna and our journey from there to Abuja was hell for me because I was handcuffed on both legs and my elbows were handcuffed to a chair, which dislocated my joints.

“I wasn’t sitting; I squatted from Kaduna to Abuja, which was a journey of about two and a half hours. It was when I got to Abuja that I was told about the reason for my arrest". Motoni denied that he tried inciting the constituents, adding that he has no plan to stop with his budget tracking mandate and educating constituents on how to engage their representatives.

"They (policemen) said they got a complaint that I was trying to incite the public, create a breach of trust and impeach the Emir. But this is not true; I went to the community to educate the people on how they can engage their representatives on the implementation of the projects,” he stated. The team lead, BudgIT, Oluseun Onigbinde, condemned Motoni’s arrest, which he alleged was instigated by the NASS representatives from the area.

Onigbinde said he believes the arrest was instigated by a federal lawmaker whose request to be seen privately was rejected.“After this, we believe the senator reached out to the Nigeria Police Force and accused Motoni of plotting to topple the Emir of Bida following which he was arrested, handcuffed and taken to SARS’ office in Abuja.

"We condemn this abuse of power by the police and we plan to take up the issue with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate President; we will also reach out to the United Nations and the United States on this issue,” he added.

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