• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Okuama killing: Urhobo forum demands truth commission

Okuama killing: Urhobo forum demands truth commission

…Says Army can’t be judge in own case

The Urhobo Renaissance Forum in the Diaspora has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to direct the military to refrain from involvement in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the murder of 17 military officers in the Okuama community, Ughelli South Local Government Area, on March 14.

Instead, they advocated for the establishment of an impartial Truth Commission to uncover the circumstances surrounding the soldiers’ tragic deaths.

In a letter signed by their solicitor, Friday Togbe, Esq., and made available journalists, the group emphasized that the military, as the defendants in the case, cannot act as judges in their own case.”

The statement reads, “As democrats, we demand that the military should for the respect for the laws of the land, be excused from the scene so that a thorough investigation and prosecution by the statutory authority can take place.

“The position of our client aligns with the relevant laws applicable in this instance and also to avoid setting bad precedents. Our country where rule of law is a cardinal principle, is a prominent key player in the African continent and pride herself as the center piece of Africa and ought to set the pace for other African countries to follow.

“There are constitutional democracy where rule of law prevails and reign supreme at all times.

“Our clients further instructed us to as a matter of urgency and national concern as critical stakeholders empathized with you as the number one citizen of the federal republic of Nigeria, the Nigerian Army as an institution, the families of the late army officers and other innocent citizens who died as a result of the ugly incident. Our client remain steadfast that never shall such a calamity befall us as nation again.

“Relying on the laws of our country and in other to objectively provide lasting remedy to the present situation with the view to forestall such bad occurrences in the future, it is the instruction of our client to request that you use your office as the commander –in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to cause the army to be retired from Okuama with the view to allowing an arbiter ‘Truth Commission’, together with the police to unravel the whole situation without bias or subjectivity.

“The law is very clear in line with provisions of the 1999 constitution and other extant laws as per the situation in Okuama.

“It is trite law particularly using the legal principle of ‘NEMO JUDEX IN CAUSA SUA, the Nigerian army can not be a judge in the instant case, in that that holding on to the said legal rule, you can not be a judge in your own case.

“The above position is also in tandem with many decided cases from the lower courts to the highest courts in Nigeria. Your Excellency sir, it is the law that the Army lacks the power to arrest, investigate and hold in custody, anyone who is not subject to the Arm forces Act or any other military law.

‘It must be stated without any equivocation that the defendant, the Nigerian Army, has no right to declare the plaintiff wanted without following the appropriate procedure.

“The defendant can not arrest the plaintiff arbitrarily without making a formal report to the law enforcement agency with the mandate to enforce law or order. The duty of the defendant is to make a formal report to the appropriate authority like the police and await the outcome.

“It is trite law that you cannot use illegality to cure illegality and based on the rule in NEMO DOT QUO DOT HABET [you place something on nothing] it therefore, means in law that the investigation, declaration of suspects therein wanted and the handing over of his royal majesty, Clement Ikolo, the king of Ewhu-Urho kingdom, the barring of the Executive Governor of Delta State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Orowhedor Francis Oborevwori and the state police command from accessing Okuama Community by the Army negates the laws as applicable in this instance, in that the law is very clear as to the statutory authority vested with investigation and prosecution in Nigerian criminal Jurisdiction.

“By the provisions of section 214 of the said 1999 constitution, and combined reading of section 217 of the Arm forces Act, it is trite that the Army lacks the power to delve into investigation in murder cases.

“For instance, section 217 of the arm forces Act state thus; ‘it is the duty of the Army to defend Nigeria from external aggression, maintain Nigeria’s territorial integrity and secure her boarder ‘

“No investigative power was ascribed to the army in the said Armed Forces Act or any other enactment known to law in Nigeria.

“Referencing specifically section 214 of the police act, the police is the only statutory authority with the fundamental and legal power to prevent, investigate, detect and prosecute the commission of crime or offence which bothers on murder.”

“Flowing from the above, it is clear that the loss of the gallant Army officers constitute a national and same requires decent legal approach instead of wandering in illegality that will make the external or international community see us as a people that lacks the knowledge of the law,” it added.