Damian Duruiheoma, Owerri
Hundreds of youths operating under the aegis of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Friday, stormed Owerri, the Imo State capital, to protest against what they called continued and unlawful detention of their President and Special Assistant to Senate President on Youth and Students Matters, Barr. Ugochinyere Michael Ikenga, by the Department of State Services (DSS).
They said the NYCN President has been in DSS custody since Monday, April 25, 2016 following a petition by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung.
Recall that it was reported that Ugochinyere’s family released a statement on Tuesday saying that he had been detained by the DSS after he was invited over by the Assistant Director of Internal Security.
The youths, who carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “Free Ikenga now, impunity can’t stand”, “DSS is enforcing lawlessness”, “We say no to impunity #freeIkenga”, “Nigerian youths stand by Ikenga”, and others, marched to the State Government House Owerri, where they presented their position paper, with a demand for the immediate release of their leader.
In a statement signed by Comrade Nnonyelum Williams, Vice President, South East and Amb. Mac-Ake I. Prince, Vice President, South South, the youths stated that they viewed the arrest as a clear affront to the integrity of the Nigerian youth and flagrant abuse of the due process of law.
“This is against the backdrop of the unconstitutional breaches of the fundamental right to liberty made subject to the spurious conditions set forth by the DSS for the release of the President of Nigerian Youths”, the statement reads in part.
It added that the NYCN owed no apology whatsoever to the person of Solomon Dalung, without prejudice to the Office of the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development and that the council would not be coerced into withdrawing its contempt proceedings pending against Solomon Dalung and others at the High Court of the FCT.
“We further state with all sense of responsibility that, Barr. Imo U. M. Ikenga shall not, in the absence of cogent and verifiable evidence of misconduct in breach of the constitution of the NYCN, resign his office as President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria.
“The arrest of Mr. President is unconstitutional and lacking in every sense of legality. Be it established that the NYCN and its leadership shall not be immersed in political in-fighting as the Council is not an arm of any political party in Nigeria or elsewhere”, it reads, saying that the youths were objecting to any, and every attempt, by anybody to want to use the machinery of State against the constitutional government of the National Youth Council of Nigeria.
They warned that such arbitrary and extra- judicial actions of agencies of state were no less than barbaric, oppressive and constitute most regrettably, executive rascality.
They called on the DSS to exercise caution and restraint in allowing itself to be used as stooge to some public officers in covering their nefarious activities against the interest of the Nigerian Youth.