We Want Police, DSS, Army Invaders Of Anglican Church In Imo State Punished – HURIWA

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LIKE IN THE CASE OF INVASION OF HOME OF JUSTICE MARY ODILI WE WANT THE POLICE INVADERS, DSS INVADERS AND ARMY INVADERS OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN IMO STATE IDENTIFIED, CHARGED, PROSECUTED AND PUNISHED FOR THIS AFFRONT TO CONSTITUTIONALLY GUARANTEED RIGHTS TO LIFE AND FREEDOMS OF EXPRESSION AND ASSEMBLY

GENTLE MEN OF THE FOURTH ESTATE OF THE REALM, we (HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA, HURIWA) have come to you today to send just one message to the relevant authorities in the Nigeria Army, the DSS and importantly, the Nigeria Police Force that owned up to the infamous, brutality, primitive and unwarranted armed invasion of the place of worship during the Christmas period in the South-East of Nigeria in hot pursuit of a perceived political enemy of the governor of Imo State and the Son-in-law of the former governor of Imo State and the current Sebayor for Imo West Senatorial District Chief Rochas Okorocha- Mr. Uche Nwosu who was at the Church for the solemn ceremony of thanksgiving worship following the final rites that his family gave to their departed matriarch.

Our demand is simple- produce these armed operatives some if whom brazenly invaded the altar shooting sporadically and dispersing the frightened worshippers some of whom apart from the psychological and emotional traumatic experiences, could have been shot if some of the bullets had landed on them as they were made to stampede out of the Church in fear that the hooded invaders who wore no identifiable uniform or name tags were UNKNOWN GUNMEN that have been ravaging the Southeast of Nigeria. We all saw how this unprovoked invasion of the Church in Imo got international opprobrium and we saw the waves of condemnation from Nigeria including but not limited to even the Imo State government who blamed the police for invading the Church.

We all saw also the repercussions of the brazen violent attacks and invasion of the Abuja home of the Supreme Court of Nigeria’s second in Command Justice Mary Odili and the consequential arrests of some of these invaders and recently the police charged them in court. The Offences of the invaders of the Anglican Church in Imo State is wealthier because unlike in the Mary Odili’s home invasion by those rogue elements led by an alleged CSP who was later denied by the police, the police operatives that invaded the Church in Imo State shot several rounds of live ammunition into the crowds of worshippers. Also we learnt that the IGP investigated the invasion and the report has been sent to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigerians are asking for the PUBLIC FULL DISCLOSURE of this report from the IGP and we wonder if the DG of DSS and the Army Chief also took their time to investigate the extent of involvement of their officers who were reportedly in that scene of unprovoked violent invasion by the security forces who wore no uniforms. The Army and the DSS must disclose the identities of the invaders and charge them to court to serve as a deterrent because their action could have precipitated a civil strife if not that those worshippers tool the entire scenario in their strides.

This issue is a serious human rights matter that must never be swept under the carpets and our action is not motivated by politics but by the patriotic zeal to ensure that impunity and lawlessness are not made the hallmarks of government of Nigeria. This press briefing which is our first in 2022 is to further serve notice to the relevant authorities to act swiftly because this criminality and state sponsored terrorism happened close to Month ago and is the norm in Nigeria since the Muhammadu Buhari administration, Nigerians make a lot of noise to condemn government’s lawlessness and few hours after, the whole thing dies now and it is business as usual.

We are going to stay on this issue until Nigeria acts to stop their armed security personnel from unleashing aggressive attacks on the citizens. We had earlier in the Month petitioned the Police Service Commission but for two weeks now the POLICE SERVICE COMMISSION HAS YET TO WRITE US TO INFORM US OF THE STEPS THEY ARE ADOPTING TO INVESTIGATE WHAT HAPPENED IN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH AND WHY POLICE OPERATIVES SHOT BULLETS INSIDE A CHURCH LIKE TERRORISTS AND UNKNOWN GUNMEN.

BELOW IS OUR PETITION WHICH WE INTEND TO PURSUE TO ITS LOGICAL CONCLUSION BECAUSE OF POSTERITY.

PETITION ON THE UNPROVOKED ATTACK BY NIGERIA POLICE ON WORSHIPPERS IN IMO STATE:

We are sending this petition as one of the most credible civil Rights organizations in the Country.

This is occasioned by the fact that watched with considerable trepidation, shock and disappointment, the invasion during a Church service in Imo State by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force who clearly were masked and operated in the same way that the UNKNOWN GUNMEN and terrorists do operate.

These set of armed police officers who wore no identification tags, uniforms nor can be seen because they were hooded entered the Church and breached the sanctity of the altar of God in their primitive attempt to effect the arrest of Mr. Uche Nwosu who nevertheless is always guarded by some armed police but who was completely unarmed inside the Church alongside his family members, friends and hundreds of worshippers who turned out for the Sunday service and to honour the memory of the late matriarch of Uche Nwosu’s family who was recently laid to rest.

As shown by video evidence in circulation and much belated official confirmation by the Imo State police command, the former Imo State gubernatorial candidate and son-in-law to former Imo governor Rochas Okorocha, Uche Nwosu, was arrested by the police right inside the Church after several rounds of live bullets were fired by the invading armed and hooded police operatives in the midst of hundreds of innocent worshippers.

Mr Nwosu was taken in by gun-throttling police operatives on that specific Sunday (26th December 2021 )while attending his late mother’s thanksgiving service at St Peter’s Anglican Church Eziama-Obaire Nkwerre LGA of Imo state.

In a viral video posted on Facebook, the armed officers stormed the church, shot sporadically into the air to scare people and then dragged the politician away with them.

Nwadike Chikeze, a media aide to Mr Nwosu confirmed the arrest and stated thus: “Actually we were in Church service when about four men dressed in black walked into the church. Two were stationed at the exit door while two moved into the church to search for their target. So when one of them saw Ugwumba (Mr Nwosu), he identified him and told him to stand up. Then he applied force and dragged Ugwumba out of the church. They took Ugwumba’s security men unaware so it would be so unwise of them to engage the men in a shoot out since they already had their target. So they started shooting inside the church. They were shooting to kill. The congregation fled for their lives and they dragged Ugwumba out, put him in a vehicle and left in their convoy,” Mr Chikezie said.

Ironically, the spokesman for the police in Imo, Michael Abattam, belatedly confirmed the arrest in a statement on Sunday but did not give any reason for the development.

The official statement from the Imo State police Command came several hours after the news had trended that those who invaded the Church and abducted the politician were either kidnappers, unknown gunmen. Publications after publications since the official confirmation was made by the Imo State Police Command, pointed to a serious breach of professional ethics, codes of conduct and gross violations of the extant Police Act of 2020 signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Clearly, these terrorist behaviours of these armed and hooded police operatives offend several provisions of the extant Police Act of 2020 and this calls for investigation by the Police Service Commission.

We are making the affirmation that the police operatives and their commanding officers who invaded the Church and shot many rounds of live ammunition into the crowds of worshippers that could have resulted in collateral damage must be brought to face the appropriate investigative mechanism created by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and this forum is the Police Service Commission headed by your good self and composed of tested and trusted commissioners whom we are looking up to carry out thorough, transparent and clean probe of the acts of professional misconduct by the armed police operatives aforementioned.

This is because the behaviours of these armed police operatives have made most Nigerians to conclude that indeed, the Nigeria Police Force may know something about the so called Unknown gunmen if policemen can be this desperate to invade a Church shooting as if they are terrorists. The Police Service Commission is invited to read a few of these negative reactions and to take a closer look at the very credible report compiled by Amnesty International on police killings in Imo State. We will include some of these as annexures for your kind and meticulous perusal.

As is very well known, the general objective of the new Police Act is to provide an effective police service that complies with the principles of accountability and transparency, protect human rights and freedom which were flagrantly flouted by the armed police operatives who stormed a Church in Imo State aforementioned.

The duty of the Police is to prevent and detect crimes, protect the rights and freedom of suspects and non-suspects in accordance with the Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and any other law. See Sec. 4 (a).

The Nigeria Police Force is responsible for vetting and approving the registration of Private Detective Schools and Private Investigative Outfits. See Sec. 4(i).

The Police is mandated to report the findings of its investigation to the Attorney General of the Federation or State as the case may be. See Sec. 32(1).

The Act prohibits the Police from arresting anyone based on a civil wrong or breach of contract. See Sec. 32(2).

The Act equally prohibits the arrest of any person in place of a suspect. See Sec. 36.

The Act makes it mandatory on the police officer or any other person authorized to effect an arrest to inform the suspect his rights to:
i . Remain silent or avoid answering any question until after consultation with a legal practitioner or any other person of his own choice. See Sec. 35(2)(a).

ii. Consult a legal practitioner of his own choice before making, endorsing or writing any statement or answering any question put to him after the arrest. See Sec. 35(2)(b)

iii. Free legal representation by the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria or other organizations where applicable. See Sec. 35(2)(c).

The Act also makes it mandatory on the Police to notify the next of kin or relative(s) of the suspect immediately after the arrest of the suspect. See Sec. 35(3).

A suspect shall be accorded humane treatment. And a suspect shall not be subjected to torture, cruelty, inhumane or degrading treatment. See Sec. 37.

The statement of a suspect can be taken only when he wishes to make a statement. See sec. 60(1).

The statement, where the suspect wishes to make one, MAY be taken in the presence of a legal practitioner or any other person or organization of his own choice. See sec. 60(2).

Where a suspect is arrested and detained for more than 24 hours, if the offence he was arrested for is not a capital offence, his lawyer or relatives can notify any court that has jurisdiction to try the matter about his arrest. See sec. 64(1).

The notification can be made in writing or orally. See sec. 64(3).

The court SHALL order the production of the suspect and inquire into the matter. Where it is convinced that the suspect should be released on bail, the court shall admit him to bail.

The Police are mandated to take the photographs and fingerprint impressions of all suspects who are in lawful custody. See sec. 68(1).

Where a suspect refuses to allow the Police to take his measurements, photograph and fingerprint impressions, the Police can the right to apply to court compel the suspect to submit himself. See sec. 68(2).

On the last working day of every month, an officer in charge of a police station must report to the nearest magistrates the cases of all arrests made without warrant in his jurisdiction, whether the suspect have been admitted to bail or not. See sec. 69(1).

By section 66(1) of the Police Act 2020, ONLY a Police Officer who is a LEGAL PRACTITIONER can prosecute. Section 23 which hitherto gave non-Police lawyers prosecutorial powers no longer hold any potency in law, the entire old Police Act,cap P.19,LFN,2004, having been REPEALED by the Police Act, 2020 recently ASSENTED to by Mr. President.

In effect, any prosecution by a non-Police lawyer is null and void, and of no effect whatsoever – by virtue of section 66(1) of the Act(supra).

Thus, it’s a legal ground for objection to any prosecution being conducted by a Police Officer who is NOT a LEGAL PRACTITIONER.

As clearly expounded in the Constitution, the drafters as it were therefore careful to preserve the primary functions of the Police SERVICE Commission in terms of appointment, promotion, and discipline of the police, which are the exclusive preserve of the oversight body. The powers of the PSC, by Nigeria’s laws, are therefore not only supreme, but totally independent. We call on the members and hierarchy of the Police Service Commission to instil a sense of discipline and professional virtues in the ranks and files of the Nigeria Police Force and the entire policing institution. This primitive invasion of a place of worship to display show of unnecessary force has portrayed the police in Nigeria as anarchists making it imperative for the Police Service Commission to rescue the policing institution from this accumulated opprobrium.

PRAYERS:

Our single formulated prayer is for the Police Service Commission to identify the police operatives who did the unthinkable and terrorist act of invading a Church and shooting sporadically right inside a well populated Church.

The Police officers including the Police commissioner of Imo State who confirmed the invasion which he termed ‘arrest’ of Uche Nwosu must be invited by the PSC to clear their names or be DISMISSED.

We are considering other measures but we will first allow the PSC to exercise her powers to bring the lawless and reckless police officers to face the music of their professional misconduct in Imo State and for letting themselves to be used as POLITICAL CANON FODDERS IN THE PARTY SQUABBLES WITHIN THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS IN IMO STATE.

Our objectives are;

• To deploy the members’ creative talents as writers to promote, protect and project the human rights of all Nigerians and other law abiding citizens resident within Nigeria;

• To organize periodic seminars and training workshops locally for human capital development specifically on the tenets and ideals of Human Rights and the rule of Law;

• To attend international workshops and seminars targeted at the promotion and protection of human rights;

• To conduct periodic studies on ways, means strategies for promoting and protecting human rights of law abiding citizens;

• To highlight human rights challenges confronting the persons in conflict with the law and seek for constructive modalities for redressing such violations; and

• To recognize excellence and good governance standards in the polity through yearly award ceremonies for exceptionally good, tested and trusted leaders in both the corporate and public sectors.

Whilst awaiting your response and rapid action, be assured of our high regards and special consideration.

Faithfully Yours in national service;

COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
NATIONAL COORDINATOR:
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA( HURIWA)
January 19th 2022.

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