The Peoples Democratic Party in Benue state has raised concerns about the continuous detention of the party publicity secretary, Bemgba Iortyom by the Department of State Services.
He was invited on Monday and has yet to regain his freedom as of the time of filing this report.
The Vice Chairman of the party, Benue North East, Azua Ashongo, in a statement issued Monday evening, said Iortyom was invited by DSS for a chat with the director on Monday, October 16, 2023, and was thereafter detained.
He said, “Earlier today, (October 16, 2023), the DSS invited the Benue State Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, for what was termed a chat with the state Director of the Service.
“Though the reason for the invitation was not stated, I, along with the Media Consultant of the party, C.T Hwande, and a representative of the state Legal Adviser, accompanied Mr Iortyom to honour the invitation.
“We arrived at the DSS headquarters in Makurdi at exactly 12:47 pm and were warmly received by one Danlami Imam, who we later discovered is in charge of the Political Desk of the Command.”
“Ten minutes after our arrival, Imam returned to us and asked us to leave as the Director who demanded the invitation of the PDP spokesman was busy with other official engagements and would not be seeing us immediately. He said he would not want to make it look like Iortyom was being detained by the Service.
“We left the DSS premises and barely 20 minutes after we arrived at the Party Secretariat, there was a call from the same Mr Imam requesting that we return to the command headquarters, indicating that, the Director was now available and ready to meet with Mr Iortyom,” he explained.
He added that Iortyom drove back to the DSS headquarters and was joined by the party’s state Treasurer, Philip Bemgbe.
“As soon as we arrived, at about 2:11 pm, two gentlemen walked up to us, claiming to be from the office of the Director and took Bemgba Iortyom away. All efforts by us to accompany him failed as we were told that only Bemgba Iortyom was invited by the Command.”
Since then, he noted that the whereabouts of Iortyom were not known; neither were they told if he had been detained or not.
“And because we were not allowed access to him, one can not say, for sure, if his invitation was as a result of a petition written against him or a complaint from any quarter or better still, was in a friendly chat with the Commands Director.”
“And with the recent remarks by the incumbent Governor, Hyacinth Alia, it is difficult not to link him with this sudden invitation of Mr Iortyom by the DSS and his imminent detention,” Ashongo further said.
Meanwhile, the state governor, Alia, has distanced himself from the arrest of the opposition party chieftain.
The governor’s media aide, Kula Tersoo, in a text message sent to journalists, said, “We have no hands in that. We only read on Facebook that he was invited by the DSS. But he wrote again that the invitation was deactivated.”