A human rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law ( a.k.a Intersociety) has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to terminate the appointment of Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, for detaining, without trial, two traffic wardens for more than three weeks.
The group made the demand in a letter to the presidency dated August 2, and entitled, ‘Detention without Trial, Solitary Confinement and Age-Long Discriminatory Practices against the Personnel of Nigeria Traffic Warden’s Service: A Case for the Removal of the Inspector General of Police.’
The group’s chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi, frowned at what he termed the age-long discriminatory practices against the personnel of the Nigeria Traffic Warden’s Service as well as indiscriminate arrest and detention without trial of two of their key personnel, Messrs Adamu Dogora and Emmanuel Mlanga.
According to Mr Umeagbalasi, the Inspector General of Police had abominably become an outlaw.
The letter reads in part, “Since 8 and 11 July 2011, respectively, the duo of STWs (Inspectors) Adamu Dogara and Emmanuel Mlanga of Kano and Plateau States’ Commands have been languishing in police cells located in Wuse and Asokoro Police Divisional Commands on the orders of the Inspector General of Police. By our express calculations, they have been detained for 25 and 22 days respectively without any form of trial, be it “orderly room”, “committal proceedings” or formal trials. The worst is their solitary confinement and erosion of their pre-trial legal rights, as access to their families, lawyers, doctors, conjugal visit rights, etc, have apparently been blocked, no thanks to the ‘orders from above’ under IGP Ringim’s midwifery.
“The clamp down on key personnel of the service is continuing. On Thursday, July 28, 2011, STW Emmanuel Mlanga was moved to an undisclosed location in Lagos State where the Nigeria Police Force arrested AST Sunday Haruna and took them to the Force Headquarters. While AST Haruna was ordered to make a statement, after which he was directed to be reporting to the Force Headquarters from his Lagos base, STW Emmanuel Mlanga was taken back to his detention cell on the same day.
“We have thoroughly searched the 320 Sections of the 1999 Constitution and her Schedules as well as her subordinate legislations, especially their criminal part, so as to locate where, under this democratic setting, the Inspector General of Police … derive powers to detain citizens beyond 48 hours, not to talk of over 600 hours or 25 days, without trial … but we could not locate such powers.”
“On the same date (July 28, 2011), Traffic Warder Grade 111 (Constable) David Oyishoma of the Bwari Division in the FCT, Abuja, was arrested and detained at the Wuse Police Divisional cell, alongside STW Adamu Dogara. On Wednesday, July 27, 2011, the signals for the arrest of STW Samuel Uwakwe of the Cross River State Command were sent to the Command from the Force Headquarters. STW Uwakwe, who is presently on annual leave, had reportedly fallen sick and presently in an undisclosed hospital bed in South East Nigeria. He had earlier been penciled down and included in the ‘wanted list’ of the Force Headquarters,” Mr Umeagbalasi stated.
He said that on July 28, 2011, calls were made and text messages were sent to the cell phone numbers of the Inspector General of Police and the Force Public Relations Officer, Shola Amore, by some journalists “working on our letter to the IGP Hafiz Ringim, so as to get the Police angle in the matter. The police described it as an internal affair of the force”.
According to Mr Umeagbalasi, “We have thoroughly searched the 320 Sections of the 1999 Constitution and her Schedules as well as her subordinate legislations, especially their criminal part, so as to locate where, under this democratic setting, the Inspector General of Police, either through himself or subordinates, derive powers to detain citizens beyond 48 hours, not to talk of over 600 hours or 25 days, without trial, not even by ‘committal proceedings’ or ‘orderly room trial’, but we could not locate such powers.”
The group, therefore, called on Mr Jonathan to remove Mr Ringim for gross misconduct, citing Section 15(5) of the Constitution, under Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of State Policy, which it said, outlawed “all forms of corrupt practices and abuse of office”.