The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Mr. Anthony Ojukwu, SAN, has revealed how suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari, was shielded from facing numerous cases that were filed against him since 2008.
Ojukwu, who spoke at a capacity building retreat of the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights, organised by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, further disclosed that all the petitions against DCP Kyari, bordered on human rights violations.
The NHRC boss lamented that despite several invitations extended to Kyari who is currently in custody of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, police authorities refused to allow him to appear before the commission.
“I summoned Abba Kyari up to eight times, but the authority shielded him. Everytime they will say that he travelled to Lagos, Kaduna or somewhere else.
“He had so many issues and cases that were brought against him, pending before the Commission.
“Since 2008 to 2009, we have been summoning this officer because he had so many petitions against him. But he was celebrated as a super cop.
“Thank goodness that God has used another way to bring him into account”, Ojukwu added.
He urged those that occupy positions of authority, including the federal lawmakers, to be mindful of their conduct, saying “the days of impunity are gone”.
“If you do anything while in power, you will definitely answer for it no matter how many years it takes,” Ojukwu stated.
Earlier in his remarks at the retreat, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, said there was need for Chief Magistrates in the country, to in line with the provision of section 34 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, pay periodic visit to detention facilities across the federation.
Falana, emphasised that under extant laws in the country, no one should be arrested in lieu of another person, adding that all confessional statements must be recorded in the presence of a lawyer.
He further warned against the use of torture by security agents to extract statements from suspects.
“The law as at today is very clear. If anyone is tortured, the penalty is 25 years imprisonment without option of fine”.
Stressing that it is a criminal offence for hospitals not to treat someone with gunshot wound, Falana, SAN, further called for an end to the parading and seizure of passport of suspects, insisting that it is illegal.
“No security agency has the right to seize your passport. It has gotten so worse that these days, you may not even be aware. You will be travelling out and you will be told that your name is in what they call the watchlist.
“My name has been there since 1984. There must be a court order before your passport could be seized”.
Recalling that his passport was once seized for over four months, Falana, SAN, said: “From 1987 to 1997, I never travelled through the airport. I had to pass through Cotonou route which people now call NADECO road.
“One day, I came back to the country, they detained us and asked for our passports. I told them that I left it in Cotonou. They detained us.
“Up till today, passports are still being seized. We cannot operate like that. The court has said that nobody should be declared wanted without a court order, but they still do so.
“There are judgements that nobody should be paraded, especially someone that is presumed innocent. But what is happening today?
“Ordinary people are being paraded, but many of those that stole millions are never paraded”, Falana noted, even as he accused Police of engaging in what he termed as “commercialization of liberty”.
The Executive Director of PLAC, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, said the essence of the retreat was to equip the House of Reps Committee on Human Rights to become more responsive to petitions from citizens.
“Committees on Human Rights in both the Senate and the House of Reps have a a lot of work to play in protecting the right of citizens”, Nwankwo added.
In his welcome address, the Chairman, House Committee on Human Rights, Hon. John Dyegh, said the retreat was a platform for stakeholders to deliberate, review previous resolutions and proffer workable solutions to some of the human right challenges facing the country.