The six supporters of the African Action Congress (AAC) arrested and charged to court in a case between them and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, have been granted bail at a magistrate court in the Samuel Ilori Courthouse, Lagos.
The six were arrested by officers of the Area F Division Ikeja, on Sunday.
A statement by Chike Oti, Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, had accused them of “tearing posters of other political parties and replacing them with that of the African Action Congress".
They were charged to court on Monday.
The arrest of the AAC supporters led to a peaceful protest at the Area F Police station in Ikeja on Monday, as civil society organisations referred to the action by the Police as "political witch-hunting".
The protest, however, took a different dimension as policemen fired teargas canisters at the protesters, injuring a lady identified as Annabelle Oko-Oboh, and arresting 10 others.
Meanwhile, in court, the six persons accused of tearing posters pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge levelled against them by the Commissioner of Police, which are “conspiracy to commit felony to with criminal damage to property, criminal damage to property of Jimi Agbaje by tearing up his campaign posters on Awolowo House Fence, and breach of peace by tearing campaign posters of other political parties and replacing them with AAC presidential campaign posters”.
Taiwo Olawale of Falana and Falana Chambers, who represented the accused, told the court that “members of the AAC with Omoyele Sowore as their presidential candidate’s only crime was pasting posters at night".
"My Lord, because the party is not a major party, the Police are using the instrument of the state to harass them," Olawale added.
Raising his objection, representative of the Commissioner of Police, Inspector D. Raphael, told the magistrate that the suspects were "indeed caught in a criminal act which will be determined in trial”.
After hearing statements from both the prosecuting and defence counsels, Magistrate B.O. Osunsanmi gave her ruling, stating thus: “This court is not ready for any trial. This is a bailable offence. I hereby grant bail in the sum of N50,000 each with one responsible surety.”
Speaking after the court’s decision, Defence Counsel Taiwo Olawale said: “The court in its wisdom has determined the offence that the Police is alleging is bailable and we will perfect their bail conditions.
“The ruling party is always in the habit of oppressing the opposition. They know the power and cadre of Mr. Sowore and what he can do and that is why the Federal Government is coming with all this."
The prosecuting counsel, however, declined to comment after the hearing. The Commissioner of Police could also not be reached for comments.
Speaking on the incident, Omoyele Sowore, the AAC presidential candidate, called out the CP on his Facebook page saying: “Lagos Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, hasn’t learnt from history. Police officers doing dirty jobs for parties in power will ultimately end in ignominy!”
The case has been adjourned till February 4, 2019.