Mbaise nation: Group demands resignation of IGP Baba over defamation

“It is unbecoming for the IGP to bring Mbaise nation into his statement. There was absolutely no justification for such faux pas.”

By Emma Ogbuehi

For referring to one of late Chief MKO Abiola’s widow, Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola, as “an Mbaise-born activist,” the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, has been asked to tender unreserved apology to Mbaise people and resign.

A group, Concerned Indigenes of Mbaise Worldwide, made the demand on Monday through its legal counsel, Mr. Maxwell Opara.

Prof Abiola, a lawyer and human rights activist, and her domestic staff, Rebecca Enechido, are currently facing prosecution for allegedly assaulting a female officer, Inspector Teju Moses, at her residence in Garki, Abuja last Tuesday.

The alleged assault followed the refusal of Inspector Moses, who was Abiola’s police orderly, to carry out domestic chores at her house.

A video showing Inspector Teju in pain, with a bleeding face, trended on social media last week.

Prof. Abiola and co-accused were subsequently arraigned before the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Zone 6, Abuja for the offences of criminal conspiracy, causing hurt without provocation, attempt to commit culpable homicide and intentional insult to cause a breach of trust.

The court ruled that she be remanded at the Suleja Correctional facility while the case was adjourned to October 5.

But in a press statement by the Nigeria Police Force captioned “Grievous assault on woman police, IGP condemns act, orders express prosecution of case” on its verified Twitter handle @PoliceNG, IGP Baba referred to Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola as “an Mbaise born activist,” a characterization which has not gone down well with the people.

Part of the police statement read, “Zainab Duke, an Mbaise born activist, grievously assaulted her orderly in company of some accomplices on Tuesday 20th September, 2022 at her residence in Garki, Abuja, due to the refusal of the orderly to breach professional ethics by carrying out menial and domestic chores at her house.”

Concerned Indigenes of Mbaise Worldwide in the strongly worded petition said the use of the expression, “an Mbaise born activist” defamed the “Mbaise people of Imo State, South East Nigeria.”

Mr. Opara said this is more so considering the fact that Prof Zainab Abiola was neither born nor married in Mbaise.        

The petition reads: “Our attention has been drawn to the action of the Inspector General of Police (Usman Alkali Baba), wherefore in a press statement published on 22nd September, 2022, Captioned; “Grievous Assault on Woman Police: IGP Condemns Act, Orders Express Prosecution of Case”, the IGP in a needless and irrelevant attempt to describe the suspect, Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola, used the expression “an Mbaise born Professor/ Activist.”

“I, Barr. Maxwell Opara, together with the Concerned Indigenes of Mbaise Worldwide, are of the view that the IGP used that opportunity to manifest his hidden disgust and hatred for the Mbaise People of Imo State South East Nigeria. More so, where it has since been confirmed that the said suspect is neither from Mbaise nor married to Mbaise.”

The group demanded an immediate retraction of the “disparaging comment” and unreserved apology from the IGP to the Mbaise nation after which he should resign his position for “gross misconduct.”

The aggrieved people gave the police boss seven days to comply with their demands or face legal action.

“We seek to inform the Inspector General of Police (Usman Alkali Baba) that his use of that expression “an Mbaise born Professor/Activist” defamed the good people of Mbaise, Imo State, who are currently gravely aggrieved and agitated over the incident and publication which had since been widely circulated to the whole world.

“Thus, we have already written to the IGP and in the said letter, we called on the IGP to immediately release another press statement wherein he is to apologize on behalf of the Nigeria Police Force to the Mbaise People of Imo State, retract the said disparaging comment and publish same in two national dailies and on their verified social media handles, and finally resign from his position as the Inspector General of Police for gross misconduct.

“The IGP (Usman Alkali Baba), is hereby assured that if at the expiration of one week from the date of receipt of this letter, you fail and/or neglect to comply with the above demands and resign honourably for his gross misconduct and violation of the constitution, we shall invoke our next instruction to institute a class action against him and the Nigeria Police Force for defamation of the reputation of the good people of Mbaise, Imo State, South East of Nigeria. Thereafter, we shall equally approach the court through application of Mandamus to compel the President and the Police Council to exercise their powers under section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020,” the petition further read.

Speaking in the same vein in an exclusive chat with TheNiche, Ochiagha Carl Azudibia, President of Mbaise Peoples Congress (MPC), an association of Mbaise professionals, said IGP Baba’s statement is unbecoming and embarrassing.

Calling it the trolling of an innocent people, Azudibia said, “It is very embarrassing and uncalled for.”

“How the name of Mbaise nation came into the statement is a big surprise and assuming without conceding that Prof. Zainab Duke Abiola’s parents were living in Mbaise when she was born, singling out Mbaise nation in the manner the IGP did without mentioning where the woman hails from or where she is married is in bad taste.

“It is unbecoming for the IGP to bring Mbaise nation into his statement. There was absolutely no justification for such faux pas. In the first place, Mbaise is not a State. It is only a community within a State. And here we deal with someone’s state of origin which supposes that the IGP would be talking of an Imo State-born activist, at most, if the woman is from Imo. But she is not.

“Besides, is it not said that crime has no ethnicity? If indeed the woman committed the crime as alleged, what has that got to do with where she was born? IGP Baba miscued and he owes the good people of Mbaise an apology.”

…This Story was first published in TheNiche online today , Sept. 27, 2022..

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