People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti has encouraged the UPND officials who were arrested for attempting to hold a press briefing in Mongu, to sue the police for unlawful detention.

Commenting on the incident where police in Mongu arrested five UPND officials at their party secretariat, Mulongoti told News Diggers! in an interview that the action by the Police was a sign of ignorance and a total trespass on people’s rights to assembly.

He said the public Order Act did not require anyone to notify the police about a private meeting if they did not want police protection.

“Let me say this, the Public Order Act does not allow anybody to get a permit because you only notify for the purpose of giving you cover or security, if you are not able to do that then you should provide your own marshals to protect yourselves. But arresting people at an indoor meeting which is at the secretariat, that is going too far and it is a problem of ignorant police men and women who are abusing the Public Order Act,” Mulongoti said.

“And the consequence of that is, those people can sue for unlawful detention. They should sue them. So it’s up to the police, if they want to keep them then they should go ahead but they can actually sue them for unlawful detention and the results again will come to the tax payer to pay the police for that stupid action. So the party also can decide if they want to sue on their behalf since those are currently in detention and cannot defend themselves. Moreover, the maximum for keeping someone in detention is 48 hours because anything longer than that is unlawful. So we insist that they release them and if they have anything to charge them with, charge them so that they can have an opportunity to defend themselves.”

Mulongoti argued that the arrest of the UPND officials was a trespass on their right to assembly especially that the officers did not even have a warrant of arrest from the courts of law.

“I think that is total trespass on the part of the police because if at all they suspected a problem they should have gotten a court warrant to enable them access the premises but since they didn’t, it’s not right at all. We must move away from this primitive approach by the police. The role of the police is not to harass citizens, the role of the police is to protect citizens and instead of giving them cover, they go and arrest them? That’s nonsense,” he said.

“Where is our democracy? Where is the freedom of assembly? Because it is provided in the constitution in the Bill of Rights that these freedoms are guaranteed and assured and unless that law is repealed, it still stands that the freedom of assembly is guaranteed.”

He further said the police was not giving confidence to the public by issuing careless statements.

“Now that Esther Katongo or whatever it is that she is, if she is Spokesperson for the police she should go back to school so that she can learn how to issue statements that are comforting to all of us as citizens. Otherwise, this is all nonsense I can tell you. When we say that there is a breakdown in law and order, some people think it’s a joke but you can see from the way things are going,” said Mulongoti.