Posted by News Express | 8 April 2020 | 1,077 times
My attention was called by my lawyer to a write-up uploaded on some social media platforms by United States of America-based Azuka Jebose, in which he alluded to my connection with or alleged ties with the Delta State-born billionaire statesman and political tactician, Prince Ned Nwoko. This, in his warped imagination, may have informed my interventions in the allegations of human rights violations that took place for months in a once peaceful community of Idumuje Ugboko. It must be stated that the Federal Government of Nigeria is now seized of the facts and the allegations which the chief law officer of Nigeria adjudged to be terror-related offences, subject to the determination of a competent court of law.
Well, I read his mumbo jumbo of a hurriedly written piece full of innuendos and have every imprint of a write-up coupled up in one of the remotest parts of God knows where in the United States of America. The piece began by dwelling on series of irrelevant hearsays and half-truths and ended tragically like a tale told by a man set out for mischief and malice; who should be sympathised with rather than take him up on those libellous allegations he made and his open invitations for a lynch-mob attack on my person or the person of Prince Ned Nwoko, whom he mistakenly believed has paid me handsomely to delve into the raging matter that has just been instituted in a Federal High Court in the Abuja division.
First and foremost, I make considerable haste to say that those incoherent allegations are untrue as they relate to me; and totally false on the person of Prince Ned Nwoko considered by his people as one of their most illustrious philanthropists with a humane heart.
But I have not been hired to speak for Ned Nwoko, even though I am by profession a media worker.
My decision to write this and others that have been published in the last three years are motivated by the need to restore lasting peace in Idumuje Ugboko; and for those who approached the National Human Rights Commission through the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) to gain a sufficient redress of their dehumanisation. We have absolutely nothing to do with the irrelevancy of a squabble for the traditional stool of the ancient kingdom. Our interventions are purely for the sake of human rights of those who approached us and the National Human Rights commission lawfully with petitions, alleging that their fundamental human rights have been violated with reckless abandon by those that are now charged before the Nigerian court system.
Some of these persons have died as a consequence of the physical torture allegedly inflicted on them by some or all of those that the Federal Government of Nigeria has decided to institute a case of terror-related charges, for which they will be fully represented in the court of competent jurisdiction and will have their day. This is what the constitution says about the court system of Nigeria in Section 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999, as amended:
“(1) The judicial powers of the Federation shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established for the federation. (2) The judicial powers of a State shall be vested in the courts to which this section relates, being courts established, subject as provided by this Constitution, for a State. (3) The courts to which this section relates, established by this Constitution for the Federation and for the States, specified in subsection (5) (a) to (1) of this section, shall be the only superior courts of record in Nigeria; and save as otherwise prescribed by the National Assembly or by the House of Assembly of a State, each court shall have all the powers of a superior court of record. (4) Nothing in the foregoing provisions of this section shall be construed as precluding:
(a) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly from establishing courts, other than those to which this section relates, with subordinate jurisdiction to that of a High Court; (b) the National Assembly or any House of Assembly, which does not require it, from abolishing any court which it has power to establish or which it has brought into being.
(5) This section relates to (a) the Supreme Court of Nigeria; (b) the Court of Appeal; (c) the Federal High Court; (d) the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (e) a High Court of a State (f) the Sharia Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (g) a Sharia Court of Appeal of a State; (h) the Customary Court of Appeal of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; (i) a Customary Court of Appeal of a State; (j) such other courts as may be authorised by law to exercise jurisdiction on matters with respect to which the National Assembly may make laws; and (k) such other court as may be authorised by law to exercise jurisdiction at first instance or on appeal on matters with respect to which a House of Assembly may make laws.
(6) The judicial powers vested in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this section - (a) shall extend, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this constitution, to all inherent powers and sanctions of a court of law (b) shall extend, to all matters between persons, or between government or authority and to any persons in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, for the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of that person; (c) shall not except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, extend to any issue or question as to whether any act or omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision is in conformity with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in Chapter II of this Constitution; (d) shall not, as from the date when this section comes into force, extend to any action or proceedings relating to any existing law made on or after 15th January 1966 for determining any issue or question as to the competence of any authority or person to make any such law."
Now, the implication of this section, as it relates to these Nigerians from Idumuje Ugboko community charged to court for terrorism is that they will be given fair hearing in line with section 36(5) of the Supreme law of Nigeria and they will be afforded every opportunity to contradict the terror-related charges filed against them; and they have three stages to do this, that is, assuming without conceding that they may lose.
They have the opportunity at the court of first instance, the Court of Appeal and the final appellate forum which is the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
So it is not as if once they are dragged before the court of first instance that they would be denied justice and an adversarial verdict imposed on them without any right of appeal. My humble advice is that the matter should be meticulously monitored to ensure that justice is not only done, but seen to have been done.
Again, it is nonsensical and irrational to assert that Ned Nwoko is behind the decision of the Nigerian government to institute the charges against his community associates and brethren.
The much I know from my nearness to Idumuje Ugboko, Ned Nwoko is a man of peace who does not believe that anyone should be enslaved and dehumanised based on class, status or economic standing. The last name anyone will call Nwoko is an oppressor. This is a man I have been told has sponsored at least 5,000 indigent scholars through the different school systems, from high school to college; a man that has sheltered the homeless and has fed the hungry; a man that does not discriminate on the basis of religion or political beliefs. Without sounding immodest, I think Ned Nwoko is a good man. He is the man behind the current crusade to find lasting cure to malaria fever and he has donated generously to the efforts of government to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria. How can such a man with a heart flowing generously with the milk of human kindness be an oppressor?
It is, therefore, a fallacy to say that an individual in the person of Ned Nwoko can influence the very serious charges of terrorism against his own people, when he has nothing to gain.
He has no such power or connection to so determine.
He is of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and, above all, as a lawyer, he knows that nobody, no matter how powerful, can manipulate the judicial wheel of adjudication to run at the person's whims or caprices.
I think we need to even understand what the law says about terrorism in Nigeria and then look at what charges have been brought against those accused persons from Idumuje Ugboko Community, including but not limited to one of the princes.
Terrorism and insecurity are twin evils which have bedevilled the Nigerian state for so long. Although the term “terrorism” poses legal definition challenge, its peculiar characteristics manifest in motive founded on ideology, identifiable by signature violence, and targets primarily intended to compel compliance.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 1373, which required member-states to make not only terrorism a serious crime in domestic legislation along with terrorists’ funding and other ancillary offences. The first direct attempt at tackling the problem was included in some sections of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004. A comprehensive Terrorism Bill was proposed at the National Assembly in 2005 but did not pass into law. However, the situation changed with the passage of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011, which was amended in 2013 (referred herein as TPA).
Be that as it may, the problem of Nigeria is not the lack of applicable laws in the different spheres, but lack of proper or outright non-implementation. This is so much a norm that it is said our laws are better observed in breach. Government and the public cannot be on different levels of operation and expect to have a sane society, more so that the twin evils of terror and insecurity are largely by-products of people-government interaction and, to a large extent, a measure of the state of health of the relationship. This makes this discourse a most relevant one at this time of our national life. With these reflections in mind, it will be preposterous to conclude that an individual outside government has the capacity to rope his kinsmen into terror-related charges as if that “godfather” is the appointing authority of the Federal Minister of Justice and Attorney-General. This is a joke taken too far.
Now, look at what the government (not Ned Nwoko) has alleged that these set of persons from Idumuje Ugboko community have done, for which they will have their day in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Recall that a statement issued by Comrade Salihu Isah, the Special Adviser (as he then was) to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the Federal Government, following investigations into the case, had decided to file the charges against the accused persons for violating the nation’s anti-terrorism laws. He said that they are to be arraigned before Justice O E Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja. The nine others charged with the prince were Dennis Uwadiegum Nwoko, Ndudi Chijiume, Nwochie Agiliga Light, Raymond Omosiete, Adim Nwafor, Okey Ifejoku, Azuka Mukolu, Omoye Esonye and Aikhomo Omezi.
The Principal State Counsel, Mr. Magaji Labaran, of the nation’s Department of Public Prosecution, Federal Ministry of Justice, alleged that one of the culprits, Ejimofe Nwoko, between May 18-25, 2017 at Idumuje-Ugboko in Delta State, conspired with the ten others to commit an act of terrorism punishable under section 17 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2013. They were specifically alleged to have committed an act of terrorism by burning houses belonging to members of the community, among whom were Chukwuma Nwoko, Chief Chris Ugwu, Victor Omezi, Peter Bama, Nwoko Kachido and killed Cyprian Kumaorun within the community, among others; as the court may decide in a series of an open hearing sessions.
From records, four of the defendants were arrested between November last year and February this year. Six are still on the run. They were arrested on a court bench warrant and are being held at Kuje prison.
One of the victims of the alleged act of terrorism was Chuks Kennedy who allegedly later died from his severe injuries. His wife, who was six months pregnant at the time was severely beaten and allegedly taken to the palace for the pleasure of Nonso Nwoko.
These and other information was generated by the National Human Rights Commission; office of the then Assistant Inspector-General of Police (Benin City) who is now the IGP of Nigeria, Mohammed Adamu and the federal attorney-general and minister of justice.
In my capacity as a human rights activist, I expected Azuka Jebose who is a the writer to dwell on only facts, if he desires to help those citizens who are allegedly now in conflict with the law of the country and are facing the law, rather than using his time and resources to disseminate and peddle falsehoods and totally destructive libellous assertions calculated to arouse passion and to instigate violence against the persons he has tried unsuccessfully to damage.
•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist (www.huriwanigeria.com, www.emmanuelonwubiko.com), is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
No comments yet. Be the first to post comment.