14 Taraba residents put in prison over alleged quarrel with governor’s brother

The appalling state of policing and dehumanisation by security and judicial operatives across the country was brought to fore on Wednesday at the floor of the Senate.

This was sequel to a Point of Order raised by Sen. Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP-Taraba) at the plenary where he alleged the unlawful detention of 14 Taraba residents without trial.

Bwacha disclosed that the alleged offence made against them was actually an exchange of unpleasant words between them and a younger brother of the state governor.

While calling for the commissioner of police in the state to be investigated, he explained, that “the judiciary unions have been on strike to press home their demand for independence of the judiciary and, so the state judiciary has been on strike for quite some time now.

“I am concerned that 14 members of my senatorial district were on April 23, bundled out of their domain and taken to Jalingo, detained in a police cell and all entreaties to get them on bail fell on deaf ears,” Bwacha bemoaned.

He said “It is common knowledge that the Nigerian Constitution demands in a matter of this nature, the suspect shall be charged to court within 24 hours, will be released on bail and can be seen in Sections 35(4) and (5A) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“In spite of the bail application served on the police on April 29, that was exactly one week after they had been detained, the police now hurriedly went to see a judicial officer.

“I think the Chief Registrar of the state judiciary or high court, one Bartholomew Kaigama, issued a warrant of detention without hearing out the accused.

“From the police cell, they were taken straight to prison. This is judicial rascality of a monumental proportion and it is condemnable.

It is unwarranted and must be investigated and whoever is found trying to drag the name of the judiciary into the mud must be punished accordingly,” he said.

The lawmaker also urged the authorities to resolve the ongoing strike action by judiciary workers in order to effect the release of the 14 detained residents.

Supporting the motion, Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Sen. Bamidele Opeyemi, described the situation as yet another report of the manner of impunity that was going on in different parts of the country.

“It is an extremely unfortunate situation. I am in support of the prayers.

“There is a presumption of innocence which is a very important aspect of our law until proven otherwise, every alleged or accused person under our law and under our Criminal Justice System is presumed to be innocent.

“And, for 14 citizens of this country, in Taraba, to have been detained for this long without trying and without the law being allowed to take its due process, I think it is something that is a national embarrassment to all of us.

“We look forward to seeing this matter being investigated as soon as possible,” Opeyemi said.

Consequently, the Senate has urged Acting Inspector-General of Police (I-GP) Usman Alkali and the Police Service Commission (PSC) to investigate the alleged violation of human rights by police in Taraba.

The resolutions were unanimously adopted after a Voice Vote by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.

(OBSERVERSTIMES)