Plagued with inquietude all through the night at my hotel room over the wrongful detention of my good brother, friend, comrade and media colleague Mr. Utitofon by the Godswill Akpabio’s Team Warsaw I find my legal instincts scouring my brain for possible justification under the law for this act of inhumanity by man to a fellow man but to no avail.
C’mon, if the petition against the young online publisher turns out before the police to be a case of mistaken identity even to the acquiescence of the complainants (which is by all standard inconsequential) isn’t the only thing to do by law to release the young man without bail? How do you bail a man who has committed no offense under the law? What will be the charge on the detention order? O’ he is still a suspect! If that’s how the police go about detaining suspects then all our stadiums in this country would have been converted to police stations to warehouse all of us for little or nothing after all everybody is a suspect. Even where they have a valid charge or reasonable allegation as far as it is not on capital offence the young man can be released on bail with or without a surety. That is the law. But no the police refused. I even here the officer in charged claimed he just had to detained him even if for a night so that oga will not think he is supporting him (sitipe). My God! So police now works to please Oga not according to the law?
Yet, Oga must be pleased on a probable legal ground not on his whims and caprices. Unfortunately, I worked my mind out finding none.
Suddenly it struck me in the cab enroute to MMA, the constitutional 48 hours detention discretion of the police! The police must have something to back up their action especially when a journalist or lawyer is the one involved and this ostensibly must be their reason. So even where there’s no case to answer before the police as far as the petition is concerned they must at least please their hirer by detaining the innocent man “small”. Wow, imagine the evil man can do with law. No wonder Lord Denning cried out “God forbid that man should know all the laws.”
Apparently, Nigerians are inured to this callous stupidity of the police because it’s what they do everyday to us. But must we continue in sin that grace may abound? The bible asks. No, God Forbid! The same bible answers in Romans 6:1-2. This is where I find my former friend and brother Sir Patrick wanting. How can a man who calls himself a devout Christian in the order of a Knight of the Holy Catholic Church allow himself to be used by his master to perpetuate such evil? Let’s forget about the fact that he was a comrade after all who can be more “comradic” than Adams Oshiomole who’s now turned bestial albeit politically? How can we forgive him for such ungodly knighthood?
Let’s leave church people to their churches after all I hear both the arrester and arrested are catholics.
Now, as a lawyer, your loyalty is to justice not your client. This places a duty on you to advice your client appropriately as far as natural justice, equity, good conscience and law is concerned. Some of us have had to turn our client away from police stations and courts on account of this regardless of how much they’re willing to pay to hire the law unlawfully. So one can in this case forgive his principal after all we’re not in doubt of the tyrant’s deficiency in good conscience and knowledge of the law but not the willful agent. Someone even hear he is supposed to be a lecturer in faculty of law, university of Uyo which keeps me wondering; what law will he be teaching those students? Oppression Law?
Nevertheless, except there’s something about this case that I don’t know I bet my honour against their lack of it that neither section 35(5)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) nor the whole sections of the police act can insulate the Nigeria Police Force in general, the investigation police officer in person and the petitioners themselves from liability in this case.
No need to sight the laws here for them to succour their imminent litigious torment.
For free I’ll see them in court for sitipe. For freedom of press, for the common man, for democracy, for justice and for the constitution. We’ve been doing it before now.
Comrade Ewa Okpo Edmund is a Street Lawyer, Arbitrator & Literati.