Posted by News Express | 31 January 2018 | 2,476 times
A civil rights group the International Human Rights and Equity Defense Foundation (I-REF) has petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, alleging brutalisation of a female lawyer by a Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Anambra State.
In a letter dated 29th January, 2018, signed by I-REF Executive Director, Justus Uche Ijeoma, and Legal Officer, Akachukwu C.J Azubike, the group demanded immediate action on the unsavory complaint of Barr. Chiamaka Nwangwu who was said to have been brutalised, tortured, intimidated and detained by the DPO of 3-3 Police Station, CSP Jane Mbanefo and her men for carrying out her legitimate duties as a legal practitioner.
“Disturbing as the referenced personal account is,” the petition read, “it is important to inform you that I-REF is aware that not less than four other lawyers have received similar callous treatment from the same DPO and her men in the last few months. The media, especially the online/social media, has been awash with the news of another lawyer, Barr. Cosmas Anyabolu, who suffered even a more harrowing brutality in the hands of Mbanefo and her men at the same Police Station.”
The group also informed the IGP that “one lawyer who recently escaped the ‘Jane-Mbanefo treatment’, while narrating his encounter with the DPO to us quoted her to have threatened him saying: ‘I have beaten up and detained several lawyers before and heaven did not fall; if you don’t get out of this station I will deal with you the way I dealt with others and nothing will happen.’
“By the provision of Section 35(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, any person arrested or detained by the police for committing any crime has the right to remain silent or avoid answering any question until he has consulted with any legal practitioner of his choice. The provision is one of the safeguards provided in the Constitution to ensure that the fundamental rights of citizens are not trampled on in the course processing those accused of committing crime(s) by the Police.
“In I-REF, we strongly believe that lawyers should be the primus inter paris, or at least hold a strategic place in defending human rights of the people. Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders provides that ‘everyone has right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels’.
“To respect the fundamental rights of the people, the rights of those working to protect the rights of the people must first be held sacrosanct by all duty bearers, including the police. Anything short of this runs contrary to the letters and spirit of the Constitution, our grund norm, and other international instruments guaranteeing the rights and liberties of the people.
“Any attempt at brazenly harassing and intimidating lawyers out of the Police Station discloses a clear intention to trample on the rights of the people. We have observed, in the course of our work over the years, that it is only corrupt officers that get agitated on sighting a lawyer in a matter.
“Furthermore, Sir, though I-REF considers it very reprehensible that a lawyer would be treated contemptuously, the outrage expressed herein is not only that Barr. Chiamaka was grievously violated. We are most worried because if the DPO could muster the temerity to manhandle lawyers with impunity the way CSP Jane Mbanefo and her men always do, only God knows what the hapless and helpless citizens will be going through in their hands. We weep not only for lawyers, for if they do these things to green trees, what then shall be done to dry ones.”
The group, therefore, called on the IGP to direct that a thorough investigation be carried out into the alleged violent conduct of CSP Jane Mbanefo and her men at 3-3 Police Station in Anambra State.
It recommended that the investigation should be carried out by a competent, unbiased and professional team of Police officers.
“As a first step in this direction, the DPO and her co-travelers in this ill-fated journey of impunity should all be removed from 3-3 Police Station to forestall any form of interference while the investigation lasts.
“At the conclusion of the investigation, all persons found culpable must be made to face adequate sanctions. It is our considered view that the appropriate sanction in the circumstance of this image-sullying matter should be dismissal and subsequent prosecution. This, we believe, will serve as deterrent to other offices in the future and help to rein in those already on the fringe.”
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