Human rights lawyers, Wahab Shittu and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, have called for the immediate arraignment in court of suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a. Evans, by the police.
The two lawyers, in a chat with our correspondent on Friday, condemned a situation where Evans would resort to suing the police and claiming damages for alleged violation of his fundamental rights.
The call for Evans’ immediate arraignment without further delay was also backed by the Nigerian Bar Association’s Welfare Secretary, Mr. Adegbite Adesina.
Shittu believed that there was no basis for the delay by the police in charging Evans to court in line with the law in view of the nature of the crimes that the suspect had confessed to.
He said, “I think the police should get their acts together and arraign this man in court if they have any case against him, given the level of atrocities this man has admitted to have committed.
“He has confessed to a lot of crimes including killing, so, there are sufficient materials to enable the police to file charges against him. My take is that the police should gather all the evidence against him, arraign him and prosecute him immediately.
“Luckily, most of these crimes were committed in Lagos and there is a law against kidnapping in Lagos. So, why won’t the police conclude investigation, prepare the case file and send it to the Attorney General of Lagos State? They can commence prosecution. What we should be after is speedy trial, so that the course of justice will be served, not keeping him perpetually in detention and then making it look like a circus show or some kind of comedy.”
Adegboruwa argued that Evans’ continued media trial instead of court trial was unjustified and called on the police to either charge him to court immediately or release him on bail.
He said, “I think this Evans’ case is a loud testimony to the rot within our criminal justice system, to the extent that we have always said that the system of investigation is too archaic, it involves beating suspects, it involves extracting confessional statements from them and in most cases the police don’t have the required capacity for conducting proper intelligence.
“And that is the reason why almost a month after Evans has been arrested, he can’t be charged to court because the police are daily still looking for evidence and means by which they can package the case together. And it has got so embarrassing now that the man himself has now gone to court, begging the government and the police to charge him to court.
“I think that, honestly, the police should immediately charge Evans to court, so that this media trial, that it has become as it is now, will stop. What is going on now is media trial. The evidences have been compromised and at the end of the day, with all the facts in the open, there is nothing again for the police to hide in terms of prosecution. All the strategies are already known to the defence and I doubt if this case can succeed on the merit unless there is something the police have that they have not told us.
“So, I am pleading with the Inspector-General of Police to stop the media trial and immediately assemble his evidence and by next week they should charge the man to court. If not, they should release him on bail.”
Adesina described as an insult to all Nigerians the resort of Evans to suing the police and asking for damages in the sum of N300m.
He said though the police had the legal backing to request for a court order to detain a suspect for the purpose of investigating a crime, Evans should not be kept in police detention indefinitely without trial.
He said, “First, let me say that any person who is arrested for any offence, whatsoever, is entitled to approach the court to seek any relief he deems fit and at the same time we also have laws that give the police, the EFCC and other security agencies the power to hold onto some suspects for a period of time if investigation is still ongoing and they need to keep the suspect in their custody for that period.
“So, in this case, the suspect, Evans, approached the court, believing that it’s within his right and entitlement as a citizen to seek such relief. Personally, I feel that it is an insult to the generality of Nigerians for someone we all know has confessed not just to the police but even to the entire Nigerians and was even seeking for forgiveness for the heinous crimes he has committed against the country and against the citizens to now slap us in the face with a request for an order, an application for a sum of N300m damages against Inspector-General of Police, which I believe is not just incongruous but also highly condemnable and, to me, goes beyond seeking for justice.
“It is an insult to the judiciary, to the justice system and to the entire Nigerian citizens. So, it is within the power and the authority of the police to ask for extension of time within which to hold any suspect under the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, which empowers them to so do if they feel that they are still investigating.
“But I, however, would not say that the police should hold him indefinitely without trial. I believe whatever investigation they are conducting should be hastened up and should be completed within the next few days or weeks, so that they can bring him before the court and charge him appropriately. But the application, to me, is an insult to Nigerians.”
Evans had on Wednesday filed a N300m fundamental rights enforcement suit against the police to challenge his continued detention since June 10 without being charged to court.
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Source: The Punch