Kenneth Gbagi, former Minister of State for Education and Delta state governorship aspirant in the forthcoming 2023 general elections, on Monday surfaced at the state police command, Asaba, eight months after he was declared wanted over a case of assault and dehumanisation of his staff.
Gbagi had in September 2020 accused four of his staff members, Precious Achibong, Roselyn Okiemute Diaghwarh, Victor Ephraim and Gloria Oguzie, working at his Signatious Hotel, Warri, Delta State, of stealing his N50,000.
He had stripped them naked, taken photographs of them and videoed them before handing them over to the police, who detained them for four days and subsequently charged them to court.
The alleged humiliation of the suspects by Gbagi provoked women, girls and human rights activists to embark on a mass protest across the state to call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the former education minister.
Following the alleged refusal of the former minister to honour several invitations extended to him by the state police command, the immediate past commissioner of police, Assistant Inspector General of police, AIG Hafiz Inuwa, force secretary and member of the force’s management team declared Gbagi wanted.
A statement obtained by SaharaReporters, signed by the then spokesperson for the police in the state, DSP Onomo Onovwakpoyeya, noted that “Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi was invited by the Commissioner of Police through the Area Commander Warri and DPO Ebrumede Division on September 25, 2020 for questioning concerning the alleged dehumanising manner in which he ordered some of his staff to be stripped naked and physically assaulted because of an alleged case of stealing which took place at Signatious Hotel belonging to him.
“Kenneth Gbagi personally and severally called and gave the excuse that he had a burial ceremony of his elder sister on Friday 25/9/2020 in which he was a key player, and asked for time to finish with the ceremony on Sunday, and thereafter report at the state headquarters on Monday, September 28, 2020. These requests were granted on humanitarian grounds.
“On Monday, September, 28, 2020, Kenneth Gbagi called the Commissioner of Police to say that he had a court case to attend to, promising to report at the police headquarters in Asaba by 3:00pm; again he was equally obliged. On the same date, the Commissioner of Police had to call him at about 5:00pm before the same Kenneth Gbagi said he was on his way to the state HQ, Asaba. Sadly and unfortunately, Kenneth Gbagi still failed to report. Instead, he went into the public space to disparage, blackmail and maligned the person of the Commissioner of Police and the Nigeria Police Force, Delta State Command, for insisting on investigating him.
“Having failed to honour his promises, Delta State Police Command is left with no option but to declare Kenneth Ggbagi wanted. Therefore members of the public with useful information as to his whereabouts are advised to go to the nearest police station to report for his immediate arrest and handing him over to the command for thorough investigation/prosecution.”
However, in a dramatic twist, barely few days after he was declared wanted by the police, Gbagi played a fast on the police and rushed to a Federal High Court sitting at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to obtain a court injunction.
The court presided by Justice Taiwo Taiwo granted the interim order restraining the Inspector General of Police and operatives of the Delta State Police Command and its agents from threatening, arresting or detaining the embattled former minister, Gbagi.
Gbagi had filed an ex parte motion through his counsel, Nkem Okoro, and prayed the court to restrain the police from further going after him pending the determination of his fundamental rights case.
Meanwhile, eight months after he was declared wanted by the police, the former Minister of State for Education, Gbagi surfaced at the state police command, Asaba and met with the commissioner of police newly posted to the state, Mr. Ari Muhammed Ali, in his office.
Speaking during his visit to the police boss, Gbagi, who denied committing the crime, described himself as a peace-loving man.
He said some of his political rivals went out of their ways to purportedly forge a warrant of arrest and declare him wanted to rubbish his reputation.
"Inuwa got carried away to forge this warrant of arrest. The whole idea was to embarrass me just to show to the public that I am a criminal. The case of people who stole in my hotel, Inuwa, undo (sic) the case, demoted and posted DPOs and harassed everybody. How will Inuwa disgrace himself to that level? What is so important in life?" he asked.
Gbagi, however, alleged that a bribe of N10 million was received by the police from his political rivals just to drag his name in the mud.
"N10 million, what is N10 million? There is no secret in this world. The plan was hatched by those who are afraid of my 2023 governorship race. I don't have any secret. I am not a trouble maker. The warrant of arrest has no division, it was not signed by a Magistrate," he said.
Gbagi urged the new commissioner of police, Ari Muhammed Ali, to investigate the case of theft and ensure there is justice.
"Don't support me sir, call for the file and review it. That is all I want," he said.