There cannot be two standards of justice in the same country that espouses democratic ethos such as equality of everybody before the law. Let justice be done even if heavens will fall. – Author
The author, Okoi Obono Obla
For the benefit of those who forget too quickly, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Olisa Metuh reportedly fought officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the interrogation room where he was taken after his arrest and indeed tore a confessional statement he had written and attempted to chew it. He therefore falls within the classification of a defendant with violent disposition.
Today (January 20), he was brought to the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja for arraignment on charges of stealing and money laundering under handcuffs.
Ever since, the media space has been awash with some apologists insinuating sectional bias against Olisa because he was handcuffed.
However, this is no big deal. But, these piteous apologists and some in their characteristic ethnic jingoism are alleging that because Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) who is facing similar charges as Olisa was not handcuffed when he was brought to court, there is a tinge of ethnic and sectional bias against Olisa.
Perhaps, maybe they are ignominious of the stark reality. Or that their allegation is nothing, but an outrageous, puerile, absurd and warped argument which is totally out of sync with logic and reasoning. It is total bunkum!
The law gives law enforcement agents and officers of the Nigerian Prisons Service the power to handcuff a defendant who manifests violent disposition such as exhibited by Olisa Metuh.
It is submitted that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and the Nigerian Prisons Act, 2010, a defendant who is violent or manifest violent tendencies is liable to be handcuffed or bound outside the court room.
It is only when such a defendant is entering the court room, that the wardens are required to remove the handcuffs or leg chain. It is worthy to note that handcuffing or leg chaining a defendant is permitted by law and does not in any way violates the fundamental human rights of a defendant .
Granted that the constitution says that a defendant or criminal suspect is to be treated with dignity and humanity; handcuffing such a defendant cannot under any stretch of imagination amounts a contravention of the same constitution .
Recall that a former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun was handcuffed during the presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo by the EFCC when he was charged and nobody alleged regional or ethnic bias.
Dasuki did not manifest violent disposition when he was arrested but he fully cooperated with officials of EFCC. But Olisa Metuh decided to be violent and recalcitrant hence the treated he is served.
In this country, those who are accused of stealing as little as N1,000 are handcuffed and taken to court and nobody expresses any indignation .
But when an elite and ‘big-man’ such as Olisa Metuh is accused of stealing N1.2 billion is handcuffed all hell will let loose.
There cannot be two standards of justice in the same country that espouses democratic ethos such as equality of everybody before the law.
Let justice be done even if heavens will fall.
By Okoi Obono Obla