- Published on Sunday, 19 August 2012 10:36
- Written by Abdul Mahmud
Press statement of the Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL) - two developments expose the shambolic investigative constitution of the Nigeria Police Force, today. The first is the way the Force bungled its high profile investigation into the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde on 4th May, 2012; and co-terminus to this, and a more
important narrative on the Force’s avowed commitment (at least that is the mantra of the Inspector-General of Police) to the protection of the rights of citizens, is the Force’s violation of the rights of Rev David Ugolor.
Nothing exposes the Nigeria Police Force for what it is than the insidious manner with which it treats the well-known environmental rights campaigner, Rev Ugolor. Rev Ugolor was arrested by the police over three weeks ago following the allegation that he masterminded the murder of his friend and comrade, Olaitan Oyerinde. The police claim was exposed as a lie a few days later by the State Security Service (SSS) when it paraded five young men who publicly claimed they murdered Olaitan Oyerinde. The SSS also publicly displayed items stolen from the home of Olaitan Oyerinde.
Rev Ugolor has since approached a Benin High Court to challenge his illegal and unlawful arrest and detention. Last week the court granted him a temporary reprieve, pending the determination of the substantive suit before it, by asking the police to secure the release of the environmental rights campaigner. An order the Nigeria Police Force has refused to comply with!
The Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL) frowns at the behaviour of the Nigeria Police Force, and condemns the flagrant abuse of the right of Rev Ugolor. Rev Ugolor, it must be stressed, lost a friend and comrade and the grievous and sadistic way the Nigeria Police Force is presently dealing with him exacerbates the psychological trauma inflicted by his loss. More so that his dying friend lost the battle for his life in his arms following the refusal of doctors on duty at the Central Hospital Benin to attend to him on that fateful morning of 4th May 2012. The police must release Rev Ugolor NOW, so he can truly find space and time to grieve for his friend and comrade, find a decent closure to his loss.
There are wider questions the Nigeria Police Force must provide answers to, here. Firstly, were the so-called confessions of the suspects paraded by the police elicited in a manner inconsistent with our Criminal Law? Secondly, were the confessions made voluntarily or elicited through torture? The answers to these questions can only be provided by a Public Inquiry, set up for the purpose of looking at the issues that the investigation into the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde has thrown up. This is important. There are also five suspects here who are clearly innocent, as Rev Ugolor, presently languishing in police detention over a crime they never truly committed.
In the light of the afore-going, therefore, the Public Interest Lawyers League calls for:
a. The immediate release of Rev David Ugolor
b. The immediate release of all suspects presently being held by the police in connection to the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde
c. That the Inspector General of Police inaugurates without delay a panel of public inquiry to look into the investigative activities of the Federal Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), and with specific terms of reference to the murder Olaitan Oyerinde
As a public interest league, we shall not in the coming days hesitate to approach the Federal High Court Abuja to issue the Order of Mandamus to compel the Inspector-General to inaugurate a panel of public inquiry. We suspect that many innocent Nigerians, like Rev Ugolor, are today languishing in our detention centres and prisons for offences they never truly committed. And we cannot allow this to continue for too long.
19th August, 2012.